STRATFORD, ONT. - Since 2003, Peter Corner has appeared in every Ontario men's curling championship and has made the playoffs each time.
It's an amazing string of consistency, but it's one tinged with futility -- he's finished second five times and hasn't won a Brier trip since his victory in 2000.
Now 43, the Burlington police officer and Brampton Curling Club skip is taking another run at the elusive prize and he got off to a good start Monday in the Dominion Tankard as he followed a 9-3 first-round win over Mark Kean of Ajax Annandale with a 9-4 win over to Wayne Tuck of Woodstock, scoring fours in the sixth and eighth ends.
He shares the lead at 2-0 with six-time defending champ and former teammate Glenn Howard of Coldwater, who took three in the ninth to beat Bryan Cochrane of Ottawa Rideau 9-6.
Corner said he's played in something like 22 of the last 24 provincials - winning four in a row as lead for Russ Howard - and his window of opportunity is closing.
"I don't think I've got that many more left in the tank," he said. "I've got a great team right now, but it is a real grind on your personal life. I hate taking time away from my family; my girls are involved with hockey and gymnastics and I miss that stuff when I'm curling.
"It's getting close to the end for me. I've had a great run at it, but I'm here now and focused on playing well and hopefully making the playoffs."
He certainly has the personnel in front of him to do that. Third Graeme McCarrel is in his fourth season with Corner and Joe Frans and Darryl Prebble are a new front end. So Corner's definitely not here to make up the numbers.
"I have been very, very fortunate to have played in a number of these and I've got a great team this year, as I have had in the past," he said. "Everyone's on the same page and I'd love to get one more crack at going to the big show."
Corner's vast experience at this level is no doubt his biggest asset.
"Playing here over 20 times, you have a little bit extra in your tank," he said. "You know what it takes to win and you know you pace yourself. But all of the teams here are good and it's very easy not to make the playoffs."
Mark Anderson of Thornhill is at 1-0; Cochrane, Tuck, 2011 runner-up Greg Balsdon of Loonie, Jake Higgs of Harriston and Mark Kean of Ajax Annandale are 1-1; Chris Gardner of Arnprior is 0-1; and Dayna Deruelle of Brampton and Daryl Shane of Listowel are 0-2.
In the other second-round games, Higgs stole three in the 11th end to beat Balsdon 10-7 when Balsdon just missed a hit and roll to the lid off his own in the eight-foot; Kean stole two in the ninth and one in the 10th to beat Shane 10-8; and Anderson stole two in the second, added a deuce in the fourth and scored three more in the sixth to bounce Deruelle 9-2.
For Higgs, who went 1-9 last year at Grimsby, it was turnaround being a bit of fair play after he saw Cochrane steal two in the extra end to win their first-round game 8-6.
In the other first-draw games, Howard survived a bit of a scare to beat Deruelle 12-6, Balsdon defeated Shane of Listowel 7-2 and Tuck scored two in the 10th to beat Gardner 6-4.
Deruelle came in a relative unknown and things looked bleak when Howard hung a "welcome to the bigs" three on him in the first end. But Deruelle came right back with a four in the second, raising more than a few eyebrows. Howard, though, scored a four of his own in the third and stayed in control from then on.
"Actually, I considered us lucky" to open against Howard, Deruelle said. "It's everyone's first game and if you're going to get him, it's better to get him early, because he's only going to get better as the week goes on and once he gets used to the ice and the rocks, it's all over but the crying.
"We wanted to play a clean, open first end, but they found their groove early. And when they got that three, we knew we had to push it and try to answer back. We were able to create a mess out front and got a couple of angles into the four-foot, get that four and at least make it interesting for the fans.
"There's no shame in losing to Glenn. This is our first year together and we're learning together. And once we find our groove, we'll be able to play with anyone here."