Martin in 'C' of trouble

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:20 AM ET

Kevin Martin, as he was leaving the EnCan Arena on Friday night, looked stupefied.

Stunned. Bothered. Bewildered. Confounded. Confused.

Normally, Martin is a machine. But on this night he was the wreck of the Hesperus.

A major mess.

Couldn’t make anything.

“It was embarrassing,” he said.

The Alberta Curling Federation doesn’t keep shot-making percentages like they do at the Brier. But this might have been some sort of all-time low.

It was highly unlikely the legendary skip — who normally shoots about 90% — was any higher than 60%.

Maybe even 50%.

The 2010 Olympic gold medal winner, the first to qualify for the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials for Sochi 2014, looked lost after a shocking 7-4 upset to 25-year-old Brock Virtue of Calgary in the Boston Pizza Cup B event final.

Compounded by Kevin Koe ending Martin’s 22-game winning streak at the provincial championship with the Olympic team he put together in 2006, the Edmonton skip left the arena down to his last life, needing to win two games Saturday and two more Sunday.

The Sunday afternoon final suddenly looks a long way away for the Old Bear, who is used to getting there in as many games as he still has left to play while having hammer and choice of rocks.

“You’ve got to get there ... and the way we’re playing ...,” he said.

“Maybe after all these years I should see some humour in this,” he added, not looking like he’d been able to see any.

Maybe in the morning.

“We couldn’t make a thing,” he said.

“At least it was a team effort that way. We were all bad.”

That, of course, is only half the story of what happened here.

As bad as Martin was, Virtue was that good.

“I thought we played as good a game as we possibly could,” said the Lethbridge native son of his group of 20-somethings who came here identified as likely being the next ones to take over for Martin and Koe down the road.

But not now!

“We all played pretty well,” said Virtue. “I’m just happy that we have two chances to get to the final,” he said of making the match with Koe in Saturday’s 1-2 game.

The winner goes directly to the Sunday afternoon final. The loser drops to the Sunday morning semifinal.

With Koe declaring his team to be out of Calgary this year and all of Virtue’s outfit being out of the southern centre, it sets up the first Calgary-Calgary 1-2 game in the history of the format.

And, more significantly, it sets up the possibility of a Calgary team winning this thing for the first time in 18 years.

“It means a lot,” said third J.D. Lind. “We are the all-Calgary team. And we want to be THE team.

“We’re going to look back with pride that we came through with this kind of pressure,” he added.

“All of the best teams have come out of Edmonton,” said Virtue, who added there will be no change of game plan against the team which won the 2010 world championship out of Edmonton while Martin was winning the Olympic gold at Vancouver 2010.

“Just play him the same. Go out and play out asses off.”

But it’s Martin who is the story in the meantime.

The misses he made this night were as amazing as some of the shots he’s made over the years.

On the third end he called a freeze and missed it, giving Virtue two which could have been three.

In the fourth end, he threw a draw that was heavy like the one that cost him a gold medal in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics to give up a steal of one.

In the fifth, he rubbed off a guard with his first rock and then tried an around-the-horn shot with a degree of difficulty much higher than his shooting percentage justified, missed it, and gave up another steal.

In the seventh, Martin was heavy on a freeze attempt and left Virtue and open draw for two. Facing four in the ninth end, Virtue had to hit two rocks in the crotch and squeeze to the button for one. It was the shot of the week in a pretty eventful week so far.

This could be one for the books. 

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones


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