Howard breezes into men's final

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

SARNIA -- Glenn Howard isn't just beating the best curling rinks in Ontario -- he's hammering them.

Providing the exclamation point to a week of unprecedented dominance, Howard's fearsome foursome from Coldwater booked the first berth in today's TSC Stores Tankard provincial men's final by blasting old friend Wayne Middaugh 9-2 in just five ends of the unpopular Page 1-2 playoff game yesterday afternoon at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.

Heavy favourites to earn a second consecutive trip to the Tim Hortons Brier, Howard has played and won all of his 10 matches without having to complete a full game of 10 ends along the way.

"I'm shocked," the 44-year-old Penetanguishene resident said. "I can't remember in my life ever going through a spiel like this where there's really been no close games, no extra ends. I'm in disbelief."

Hometown favourite Heath McCormick of Sarnia came the closest to going the distance with Howard in their round-robin meeting but was run out of rocks in the 10th end.

In snow removal terms, it's like all the other rinks have been trying to shovel their way to the Brier in Hamilton while Howard has been operating a state-of-the-art plow.

Middaugh said teams can't afford to produce sub-par shot-making against Howard or things will get ugly in a hurry. Still, he wasn't conceding anything to his former teammate with the great Russ Howard rinks of the 1990s.

"They can be beaten," Middaugh said. "They're playing at about 80% of what they're capable of right now. But what were we at -- 12%? We missed all kinds of shots out there."

Middaugh blasted the Page playoff system for pitting the two together in the first place yesterday afternoon.

Howard also said he isn't an advocate of the format that gives the top two round-robin finishers two cracks at making the finals.

Middaugh earned a berth in final with a 9-5 win over John Epping last night.

"That (Middaugh vs. Epping) should've been the semi-final all along," Middaugh said in the afternoon. "Why bother (with playing longer against Howard)? The final still comes down to one game --winner take all."


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