Defending champ charges back

STEVE GREEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

WOODSTOCK -- There's making quick work of an opponent, but this was ridiculous.

Bouncing back from a tough last-rock loss the night before, Glenn Howard won both of his games at the TSC Tankard yesterday -- in a total of eight ends.

Four-end 9-0 poundings of Rob Lobel of Whitby in the afternoon and Mike Harris of Toronto Donalda last night improved Howard to 5-1 at the Ontario men's curling championship and lowered the over-under on how many ends he'll play in the round-robin.

He's played only 39 in his six games, the only 10-ender being Tuesday's 7-6 loss to Joe Frans of Oshawa when Howard's last-rock draw slid an inch too far.

"I've never, ever, ever had a day like this," Howard said, shaking his head. "We played very well, but we also got some uncharacteristic misses out of both opposing skips. My guys aren't missing much and when your third (in this case, Richard Hart) is curling 100 per cent, you're going to get a lot of positive results."

Howard acknowledged there might be a downside to playing so few ends.

"The ice does get a little bit different in the ninth and 10th, so in a perfect world we'd like to play a little longer, but the main objective is still to win."

And for the record, there are no performance-enhancing substances at work here.

"Bacon and eggs, over easy, the usual," Howard said.

Harris's third, John Base, could also see the funny side.

"That wasn't as much fun as it looked," he said.

Tied with Howard atop the standings is former teammate Peter Corner of Brampton, who beat Frans 9-6 last night. Corner broke a 2-2 tie with three in the fourth and a steal of one in the fifth to take control, handing Frans his second straight loss and dropping him into a tie at 4-2 with Strathroy's Jake Higgs, who curls out of Harriston.

"The first four games I personally didn't curl well," Corner said. "We were getting a couple of breaks and we'd make a big shot at the right time,. . . tonight was the best game we've played together all year. I made some good shots and (third) Graeme McCarrel was the Graeme McCarrel of old -- he had to be curling 95 per cent and that's what you need to have a chance to go to the Brier.

"That game will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the week."

Howard and Corner meet in the eighth draw tonight.

"We have to come out and play smart, and that's where I've been getting caught; I'm not playing as smart as I used to," Corner said.

In the other sixth-draw matches, Higgs snapped a two-game losing skid by beating Rick Thurston (0-6) of Dundas Granite 8-5, Bryan Cochrane (2-4) of Ottawa Rideau scored four in the 10th to beat Lobel (3-3) 11-6 and Peter Steski of Sarnia improved to 2-4 when fourth stone Heath McCormick made a double for two in the 11th to beat Chris Gardner (2-4) of Arnprior.

In the other fifth-draw games, Gardner took four in the ninth to beat Higgs 9-5, Harris drubbed Frans 9-1 in five ends, Corner beat Steski 10-9 in 11 ends and Cochrane edged Thurston 5-4.


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