Howard rink rocks

Glenn Howard delivers a shot during the team's 8-1 win against Peter Corner at the Ontario men's...

Glenn Howard delivers a shot during the team's 8-1 win against Peter Corner at the Ontario men's curling championship in Woodstock. (Sun Media/Elliot Ferguson)

STEVE GREEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

WOODSTOCK -- For Glenn Howard, it was a record-setting performance.

For Peter Corner, it was deja vu, only worse.

In almost a carbon copy of last year's final, Howard led 6-0 after two ends and went on to crush his former teammate 8-1 in just five ends yesterday in the TSC Stores Tankard final to become the all-time championship leader in Ontario men's curling and advance to next month's Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary.

The Coldwater skip won his 11th provincial title (fourth as a skip), breaking a tie with Ed Werenich. It was also the fourth straight title for his rink of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill, tying a record for the most consecutive titles by a foursome.

Glenn set the original mark with his older brother Russ, Wayne Middaugh and -- ironically -- Corner from 1991-94.

"It feels pretty cool, especially to have done it with these guys. I couldn't find a better bunch to play with," said Howard, who scored four in the first en route to a 9-4 six-end win over Corner a year ago in Waterloo. "We just didn't miss today. The guys were on their A game.

"I'm really, really amazed on how sharp the guys have stayed over the last four years. It's not that we're that much better than everyone else, it's just that the guys keep finding ways to win."

And there's no reason for this team to be going separate ways any time soon, especially with the Olympic trials looming this December.

"We want to keep focusing on the fact we're still one of the best tams in the world," Howard said. "We're peaking and we're not getting any worse, so there's no talk of change because we've got one of the best combinations in the game."

The final was effectively over after only two ends as misses by Corner and third Graeme McCarrel proved very costly for the Brampton rink.

Howard started with last rock and scored three in the first, hitting the button when he only needed the eight-foot. In the second, Corner was faced with playing a hit and roll in off his own just off the 12-foot and narrowly missed, giving up a steal of three.

Surprisingly, Hart said he and his teammates were a little edgy.

"We were as nervous as hell this morning," he said. "We've been in this situation so many times before where you know you're the best team all week and you end up teaching teams how to beat you.

"In the 1-2 game (won by Howard 5-4 over Corner on Saturday), you could see the adjustments Peter had made from the time we played them in the round-robin. And getting that three in the first put even more pressure on, because then you feel it's yours to lose."

Corner, who beat Joe Frans of Oshawa 8-5 in the semifinal Saturday, didn't pull any punches in his assessment.

"I feel kicked, no question," he said. "We must have rubbed five guards in the first two ends. Curling's a game of less than inches and we were on the short side of those inches today.

"I'm very disappointed, not so much for me, but for the fans here and the people of Woodstock who put on a great show all week. To fall out of bed like that and not put on a decent performance was disappointing."

The score may not be as surprising when one takes into account Corner's rink, which included Ian Tetley and Brad Savage, had played only about a dozen games before the Tankard, whereas Howard has been busy with the World Curling Tour events -- he's the leading money-winner with about $130,000 in earnings this season. "You could tell all week that it wasn't the Peter Corner, Graeme McCarrel or Ian Tetley of old," Corner said. "We struggled, but we've got no excuses.

"If I make it back to the provincials I'll have played 11 games again. I'd like to see us stick together for another year, but I've also got a great family at home and they deserve a lot more of my attention."


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