February 13, 2011
By TERRY JONES, QMI Agency
HIGH RIVER, Alta. -- You would wonder, when you're the Olympic gold-medal winners, how much it would mean to win another mere provincial title.
Especially if you're Kevin Martin and you just punched your ticket to an 11th trip to the Brier.
But when Martin made his final rock takeout for two in the final end to score a 7-4 win over Kevin Koe, the body language in the celebration which followed said it all.
"Look at those guys," said Martin of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert as they carried on.
"Those guys are pumped. Their energy is pretty dang high about winning this."
It wasn't a jump-around-like-idiots sort of thing. But the group hug was huge and they all had great grins.
"This just never gets old," said Hebert.
This, you understand, was like no previous provincial final anywhere in all of Canadian curling history.
It was the Olympic champions versus the Brier and world champions. And there was more involved than hype.
"We had something to prove," said Kennedy. "We didn't get to play in this event last year because of the schedule with the Olympics.
"Kevin Koe's team became the best team in the world. And good on them. But that was our motivation."
While there was potential for Geoff Walker of Grand Prairie or Brock Virtue of Calgary to make it to the final, Morris said they wanted it to be Koe.
"I think both teams wanted to play each other in the final because it would be history. And we both knew it would be a hard-fought battle. And we both knew it would be a hard game to lose, especially when it comes to these two teams and what we both accomplished last year," said Morris.
"It's such a shame that these two teams couldn't both be there. I think both these teams deserve to be there and if they'd found a way for us both to be there, who knows, maybe we would have played each other in the final there, too," said Hebert.
Martin, who said going in that his team was only playing a partial schedule this year and doing things like taking two-week trips to Hawaii, weren't bringing their A game here this year.
But he said they found it Saturday against Walker.
"Mark and John curled 100% and I just missed one shot. We found our A game and then came back (Sunday) with the same rocks on the same sheet of ice and played the way we can play. This is a team which looks forward to the big games."
Martin said he felt for his opposing skip.
"Koe missed one shot all game. That draw on the sixth," he said of the only end in which Martin was able to steal a point.
"He made 95% of his shots," raved Martin.
In the end, though, it was Martin, proving that he has the best team in the world against the world champions.
And this team has been proving that since he put it together.
"This team, since we were put together, has never lost a game at the Boston Pizza Cup," said Kennedy.
"We're 20-0 at this event as a team," he said.
They've gone 5-0 in each of the last four Alberta championships, winning five A event finals, five 1-2 games and five finals.
"There's lots of records," said Kennedy. "We weren't there last year but we've got a 26-game winning streak. Remember we were undefeated in two consecutive Briers. We're 26-0 as a team at the Brier."
No. 27 would be against Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario in the evening draw of the Brier in London, Ont., March 5 where all the usual suspects seem to be gathering again.
When this team steps on the ice in the John Labatt Centre, it'll be the 17th consecutive year Alberta has been represented by an Edmonton team and Martin will have a chance to make it nine Brier titles for Alberta and Edmonton teams in the last 11 years.
"That's the Edmonton Super League," said Martin. "That league is the reason Edmonton produces so many good young players. That league is the key to all this success."
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