Martin roars back after early trials scare

Team Martin (Edmonton) second Marc Kennedy makes a shot during his first draw game against Team...

Team Martin (Edmonton) second Marc Kennedy makes a shot during his first draw game against Team Gunnlaugson at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Olympic Trials at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Sunday. (David Bloom/Sun Media)

Terry Jones, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

For a while there it looked like this story could be titled 'Two Men And A Baby.'

But Kevin Martin put the baby away with the last rock on the final end after 25-year-old Jason Gunnlaugson and the kids from Beausejour, Manitoba gave the Old Bear a bit of a scare.

So it was three Edmonton men and their teams escaping from the first day of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Olympic curling trials with wins last night.

“I told you they are good, didn't I,” said Martin, the No. 1 seed and poster boy of the tournament who avoided the same fate as Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg on a night when the pro Edmonton crowd couldn't help but cheer for the new kids on the block.

“After three or four ends it looked like they'd never miss any,” said the four-time Brier winner who ended up with a 7-5 win.

“They don't play with any fear at all. They're going to win some games. We're lucky they didn't win one tonight.

“They were having fun and the crowd was so hoping they'd make that double on the eighth end. If they had made that the place would have erupted.”

But, uh, Kevin. You're supposed to be a home-town favorite.

“They're young guys. They're likable young guys and they're a good thing for curling,” he said.

Somebody pointed out that Martin had been skipping a year before Gunnlaugson was born.

“Thanks,” he said.

As was the case in the women's opening draw, three of the four games required the last brick to be thrown despite the fact that one of them was never really in doubt.

“Just one of many that are going to be that close,” said Martin of what's ahead.

The three Edmonton teams all jumped off to early leads, Kevin Koe up 3-0 on Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons and Randy Ferbey up 2-0 on Wayne Middaugh while Martin managed a steal of one for openers.

Ferbey scored two, three and three on the odd numbered ends to jump out front 8-3 at the fifth end break to insure that Wayne Middaugh's all-time Olympic trials record would fall to 5-14.

But Dave Nedohin had to hit one of three red rocks in the house with his last stone to win 9-7.

“Scoring those two on the first end was a real benefit,” said the 50-year-old Ferbey. “We were nervous. We haven't been on this stage for a while.

“It was great to come out real good. We kept doing what we normally do. We got a lot of rocks in play.”

Home ice advantage?

“We could hear the fans cheering for the Edmonton teams,” said the man who rode the wave to win the 2005 Brier here.

Koe also took care of business on the odd numbered ends to jump to a 6-3 lead on Simmons and ran him out of rocks on the final end to win 8-5.

Getting the jump on the stubble jumpers didn't hurt him, either.

“It killed some of the nerves,” he said.

“We're all a little nervous here. I think the nerves will be here all week.

It's just nice to get that first win.”

Koe said he felt some love from the crowd as well.

“We don't have as many fans as Ferbey or Martin,” he added.

Koe curled 91%. John Morris, throwing third rocks for Martin, came in at 90%.

The men play the 1 p.m. afternoon draw today with Koe up against Gunnlaugson's young guns, Martin against Simmons and Ferbey versus Jeff Stoughton.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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