Martin rink off to semis

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 AM ET

 So, Kevin Martin, who was that guy who looked a lot like you but couldn’t make a shot on Friday?

The Old Bear laughed at the columnist’s question.

“I don’t know who he was. I hope he doesn’t show up again,” he said.

“I just hopes that guy stays away.”

Martin won both his games yesterday — 6-2 over Greg Hill of Grand Prairie and 5-4 over Rob Schlender — to make his way back to Sunday at Alberta’s Boston Pizza Cup.

“The skipper was back,” third John Morris said of Martin, who made a mess of both the A and B finals the night before.

“He made a couple of big shots. When you’re in the big event like this, your skipper has to be your best player. And he was today.”

With Kevin Koe mauling Brock Virtue of Calgary — hitting for four in the second end and shaking hands when it was 9-2 — Martin gets a rematch against the Calgary kids who upset his apple cart Friday night in the B final.

If he wins the morning semifinal against Virtue, he’ll advance to this afternoon’s final against Koe.

When you’ve won 30 straight games at the Brier and 22 consecutive games at the provincial championship over spans of several seasons, what’s a mere four game weekend winning streak for the best team in the world?

There’s that.

And then there’s what we’ve watched here this week — or think we’ve watched — with the way Martin and his team had played until Saturday.

Olympic gold and silver medal winner, 11-time Alberta champion, four-time Brier winner and world champion Martin is going to be the story until he either comes back and wins this thing or he rips the Velcro and shakes somebody’s hand.

For most teams at this level, it’s not difficult to put a loss or two behind you. They happen with varying degrees of frequency.

But not with Martin.

When you win as frequently as Martin and his team of Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert have won since the Old Bear put them together in 2006, there’s the potential for a loss to rattle you to the bottom of your curling shoes.

Indeed, that’s been Koe’s theory all along.

“They’re certainly not the best losers out there,” Koe said at the Boston Pizza Cup in High River last year.

“They’re just not used to it. When things don’t go well, they get on each other quite badly.

“We need to win early to maybe get to their confidence a little bit and to have the hammer in the final,” added Koe.

How the Martin rink would handle it has made the weekend a very interesting study in the legendary skip and his celebrated team.

Friday afternoon, after bouncing back with a win following the loss to Koe to set up the B event final against Virtue, long-time coach Jules Owchar said it’s something to monitor.

“They get pretty mad,” he said.

“First of all, they’re spoiled. They win over 90% of their games. They’ve set an awful high standard for themselves.”

But they also talked about the flip side of that. This isn’t their first rodeo.

But what will Sunday bring?

There was a similar occurrence to ending the 22-game winning streak here this year.

It came last year at the Brier in London, Ont., when Martin’s string of 30 consecutive wins in the event ended against Brad Gushue of Newfoundland.

Martin won the next four, but lost to eventual Brier winner Jeff Stoughton late in the week and then lost the 3-4 game to Glenn Howard.

Looking back, it might have all had something to do with a pair of curling shoes, said Owchar.

“Kevin had a new pair of shoes for that Brier. His old ones had worn out. And they weren’t the same.

“Kevin’s splits, the time from the hack to releasing the rock, weren’t the same.

“We didn’t solve the problem until after the Brier when we went on eBay and found an old pair of shoes like he had been wearing.

“It was the speed of the shoe,” said Martin. “It was sliding too fast.”

He swears there’s nothing like that in his head this year.

We’ll see.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones 


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