Gift-wrapped for K-Mart

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

DRAYTON VALLEY -- It was an older fellow who walked up to Kevin Martin to shake his hand and whisper a few words.

"That was my dad, Ab," said Martin.

"Know what he said? He said 'I don't think you deserved that one.' "

He didn't.

A Brier berth seldom comes as gift-wrapped as Martin's eighth.

"I don't think you can deny that. We won one we shouldn't have won."

Martin moves into a tie with Randy Ferbey and Cliff Manahan for the most times (8) representing Alberta at the Brier.

But it was enough to rip the heart out of the greatest curler nobody knows.

Blake MacDonald missed last-rock draws to the eight foot in both the 10th end and again in the 11th to retain the aforementioned status. Except now he may become known as the guy who gagged more spectacularly and more dramatically than maybe anybody in the history of curling in this province.

NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE

He choked on the final not once, but twice.

It was the third time MacDonald reached the final as a last rock thrower.

Twice before, with Jamie King, he lost.

This time with Kevin Koe, he had it within his grasp and gassed it beyond belief in yet another Kia Cup provincial final which deserved to be shown live on provincewide free TV.

MacDonald, after he threw it away, ripped blue skirting off the boards and then fell down in a heap on the carpet in obvious agony.

It was an awful way to lose. And there aren't many worse ways to win.

"I feel terrible for him and that's the truth," said Martin of MacDonald's rink, skipped by Kevin Koe.

"They deserved to go to the Brier."

John Morris, who lost the 2002 Brier final to Randy Ferbey when representing Ontario, who gave up skipping his own rink to join Martin, is back in the Brier.

"To be honest, I feel bad. I'd be devastated to miss a shot like that. I've never had a big win like that before," said Morris.

"We obviously jumped up in celebration when it happened because we knew we were going to the Brier, but ... it's hard to celebrate."

Second Marc Kennedy said it hurt to win.

"Those guys are all good friends. I wanted to see Blake make that shot. They were playing so well. We knew after the fifth end that the only way we were going to win would be on a miss."

Martin never had a handle on the game and it looked like 24 hours earlier when Ferbey went down in flames to the same rink.

For Martin, if he can make it to the playoffs, he could play his 100th Brier game. He goes in with 88.

"I had no idea," he said. "Is that right?"

Lead Ben Hebert was there last year, playing for Pat Simmons of Saskatchewan.

Kennedy, who works for Martin at Kevin's Rocks & Rackets at the Saville Centre, is the only first-timer.

"Nothing could be better than winning the Brier and coming back to your own city, wearing the Maple Leaf on your back and playing in front of all those people at Rexall Place," said Kennedy.

The bottom line is that by having Martin represent Alberta with his new Dream Team it increases the chance of having a Brier-winning hometown team featured in March's Ford World Curling Championships in Edmonton.

Certainly ticket sales won't be hurt to the extent they might have been if both Martin and Ferbey - the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the world - were left out.

BACK TO HAMILTON

"This is going to be fun," said Martin. "It's going to be like going to the first one again, having the new team and everything."

Not only that, but the Brier's in Hamilton, where Martin went to his first one, way back in 1991.

Ferbey had a chance to experience playing before Oiler-sized crowds at the Edmonton 2005 Brier. Now Martin has a shot at the same experience at the Worlds.

"Oh, man, that would be such a treat," he said.

"I can promise Edmonton we'll be practising hard and giving it everything we have to get there.

"But, that said, we know we shouldn't even be going to Hamilton."


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