|James Grattan skip of the New Brunswick rink shouts instructions early in their first round match against Glenn Howard of Ontario Saturday March 5, 2011 at the Brier in London's John Labatt Centre.
(MIKE HENSEN/QMI AGENCY)
LONDON, Ont. – Glenn Howard was, to put it mildly, frosted.
On a day when humidity within the John Labatt Centre created frosty ice conditions, the Ontario skip was light on a draw to the inside eight-foot with his final stone, allowing James Grattan of New Brunswick to steal two for a 5-4 upset win in the first draw of the Tim Hortons Brier Saturday afternoon.
“Obviously I laid it down too light,” Howard said. “I wasn’t real confident with the shot. The ice was a bit frosty, but it didn’t affect things too badly. The conditions were still pretty good.
“I thought we controlled the game and outplayed them, but it doesn’t matter. I missed my last shot.”
Howard scored the game’s first deuce in the eighth for a 4-2 lead before Grattan tried a tricky split for two in the ninth but only scored one, leaving Howard one up coming home with the hammer.
“I didn’t mind taking one there,” Grattan said of his gamble. “If we’re tied (in the 10th), we’ve still got to steal to win and if we’re one down we still have to steal to at least get an extra end.
“But I felt we had a chance. It’s early in the week and everyone’s still trying to get a feel for the conditions and the more difficult it got, the more I thought it favoured us. And it might have looked like a simple draw for Glenn, but that eight-foot looked more like the button today with all that frost. It was a lot tougher than it looked.”
Grattan got brought back to earth a bit in the second draw as he fell 9-4 to Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba, who is in first place at 2-0.
“Wary is right,” Stoughton said when asked if he was leery of playing Grattan after his upset win. “Fortunately we only gave up a deuce in the first – he missed a pretty makeable shot for three and the momentum off that would have been huge. As it was the momentum actually shifted to us and we were able to get that three in the fifth to take control (with a 5-3 lead).”
“The execution wasn’t there tonight,” Grattan said. “It looked like we were a pretty tired crew out there. We had our chances early, but ultimately it came down to a lack of execution.”
Francois Gagne of Quebec won his Brier debut, beating Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia 10-4 in the second draw, scoring four in the sixth to take control.
“I’m happy our first game is behind us and it’s a win,” Gagne said. “Tomorrow should be better. The guys will be more relaxed, especially me.
“The ice was tough tonight. It was unpredictable in some spots, so I just tried to be in front and throw more weight to keep it clean. I’d rather make a hit and only take one than try a draw against three.”
Also at 1-0 are Kevin Martin of Alberta, Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador. Martin dumped Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario 6-2 in the second draw, Laycock got by Jamie Koe of the Territories 6-4 in the opening draw and Gushue hammered Eddie MacKenzie of P.E.I. 12-1, also in the first draw. Koe evened his record at 1-1 by beating MacKenzie 8-6 in the second draw.
Martin didn’t watch the first draw – “I tend to stay away,” he said – but he heard about the tricky ice conditions in the locker room.
“The thing is, though, the winners will always say it wasn’t that bad while the losers will go, ‘Geez, it was bad,’ so I just figure things out for myself,” he said. “The only area where it got heavier was the inturn away. I don’t care if you’re Houdini, you can’t possibly know how hard to throw it.”
In the other first-draw game, Stoughton scored three in the fourth and added a four in the sixth en route to a 10-4 win over B.C.’s Jim Cotter.
Adams, Howard, Jacobs and Cotter are all 0-1.