Circus shot propels Martin

Kevin Martin celebrates after beating Glenn Howard 8-6 last night to clinch first place and a bye...

Kevin Martin celebrates after beating Glenn Howard 8-6 last night to clinch first place and a bye into Sunday's final of the Roar of the Rings. (QMI Agency/Jason Franson)

TERRY JONES, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

It's called the Roar of the Rings.

And anybody who was there will remember the roar from 10,267 fans which followed the shot in the ninth end which put Edmonton's Kevin Martin one win away from getting to the Olympic Winter Games for the third time in his career.

Call it a runback-raise-angle jam double takeout, or whatever terminology you want to use, the circus shot put three points on the scoreboard and put Martin's men in Sunday's final with the winner advancing to the five-ring circus in Vancouver.

Martin made big shots on the eighth, ninth and 10th ends to score an 8-6 win over Ontario's Glenn Howard in a game which looked lost when Howard scored three on the fourth.

"What a fantastic game," raved Team Martin second Marc Kennedy.

"That's the best entertainment you're going to get in a curling game. That was two teams which wanted to beat each other so badly there were almost yelling matches."

There was even an accusation that Team Martin lead Ben Hebert was littering the ice with some broom debris in the path of a Howard shot in the eighth end.

Kennedy pleaded innocence for Hebert.

"We don't have to cheat to win. We've beat them in four big games now," he said.

Kennedy went directly to the locker-room after the game.

Howard said: "Look at the tapes."

But that business aside, Martin was the story with the big shots when they mattered most.

"The Old Bear made a roll on eight, that great shot on nine and another big one on 10," said Kennedy.

"Kevin played great"

If you expected brooms to be thrown in the air in glee and hugging and dancing on the ice, you don't know this Martin crew, which also includes Calgarian John Morris.

But other than about three big "whews" from Martin from the time he left the ice to when he took his position in the media scrum, there was nothing.

"I was one win away and lost the final of this thing to Mike Harris, remember?," Martin reminded the media of the first-never-won-a-Brier guy Canada sent to the Olympics, in Nagano 1998.

"It doesn't mean anything," he added.

"We're not going to think too much about it," said Kennedy of the final which already had a pre-sale of just under 12,000 before Martin --the only surviving Edmonton team -- put himself in the game.

"It's going to be exciting --the biggest game of our life. Sure I'm super excited. But you have to keep your focus and relax," said Kennedy.

"There is so much pressure," said the 27-year-old. "That's why young guys don't do well at this sometimes."

Howard and Martin made the match by dramatically reducing the Olympic hopes of Edmonton's Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe, respectively, in the morning draws.

They went into the final game of the round-robin with Howard at 6-0 and Martin 5-1, knowing that the winner would get a first-place pass.

For four years since Martin tore his previous team apart and put this one together, his mantra has been to get to as many finals as possible to deal with the pressures which make them so difficult to survive. This is a man who was heavy on a last-rock draw at Salt Lake 2002 which cost him a gold medal and lost last year's Worlds because of his first rock "non-shot."

Last night he was the big game, big shotmaker he's been on most other stages in his legendary career.

But he said it all wouldn't have been there if Howard, who had the hotter hand early in the game, hadn't finally missed one.

"If Glenn's first rock on the ninth doesn't crash, we'd only have got two," said Martin.

Howard had a real run interrupted with the loss. He was 12-1 in winning the 2007 Ford Worlds here and 6-0 going into last night. He also won his last five in capturing the 1987 Brier here as a third on brother Russ Howard's rink.

"It's been a fantastic run here. But I don't know that I wanted to go undefeated," he said and then fessed up.

"We really wanted to win this game. We just want to get to that final Sunday. One way or the other, just get to that final."

Martin will be waiting for him, or Jeff Stoughton who you remember beat Howard in the semifinal to meet Martin in the 2009 Brier final in Calgary.

There's more Roar to come.

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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