|Alberta skip Kevin Martin was in fine form Sunday, winning his 100th Brier match at the John Labatt Centre in London. (MIKE HENSEN/QMI Agency)
LONDON - Kevin Martin reached a milestone only one other man has attained Sunday, but he may have been the last to know.
The Alberta skip made it an even 100 wins at the Canadian men’s curling championship when he bounced B.C.’s Jim Cotter 8-2 in the afternoon’s fourth draw at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier at the John Labatt Centre.
The win, his 29th in a row at the tournament, left him only 13 behind Russ Howard on the all-time list and a half-game behind Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, who beat Eddie MacKenzie of P.E.I. 9-4 in the fifth draw, in the standings.
“It’s always something you guys are digging up,” Martin said with a laugh to the assembled media scrum. “I have no idea who we played in my first game in Hamilton (in 1991, when he won the Brier as a rookie). I was so nervous, I couldn’t remember.”
For the record, it was Chuck Haines of the Territories and Martin won 9-1. But the milestone clearly wasn’t foremost in his mind.
“I’m not done yet,” he explained. “I don’t plan on retiring for a few years yet, so I don’t really worry about things like that.”
Martin still has to play the other big names, but he’s not circling any games in particular on his schedule.
“You definitely learn over the years not to do that,” said Martin, who had the fifth draw off Sunday. “I’ll just worry about P.E.I. tomorrow, then go back to the hotel and start thinking about Newfoundland. You look too far ahead, the losses will come.”
Glenn Howard, meanwhile, improved to 2-1 by thumping Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan 10-3 in the fifth draw. He broke a 2-2 tie with a three in the fourth and a four-spot in the seventh gave him a 9-3 lead and the chance to bring his son Scott in for his Brier debut. It marked the second father-son combination from the family to appear in a Brier after Russ and his son, Steve, did it two years ago.
“I was saying, ‘Can we bring the kid in? Can we bring the kid in?’ and the guys said, ‘Absolutely.’ It was awesome,” Glenn said. “And he put both of his shots in the top four-foot and that’s pretty hard to do when you have no idea what the ice is like. But he’s not here because he’s my son. He’s here because he can fill in at any position if one of the other guys gets sick or hurt.”
Scott’s nerves showed as he almost fell on his first practice slide.
“I felt pretty comfortable after that, though,” he said with a big smile.
As for the win over Laycock, Howard said it was a crucial one.
“We played really well,” he said. “We had a couple of different rocks and I’m glad the guys picked up on that. The guys are starting to make everything in front of me and I’m starting to play better.”
Laycock said taking only one in the third end proved pivotal.
“We had a really good chance for three there and that was an opportunity we let get away,” he said. “After that we were behind the eight-ball and we had to gamble. But to get off to a 2-0 start was big because we knew Ontario would be a big game. And we’re starting to play a little better in that game, though the scoreboard didn’t show it.”
Also at 2-1 are Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador, who fell 6-5 to Cotter in the fifth draw when the B.C. skip had an open house to draw to in the 10th, and Francois Gagne of Quebec. Jamie Koe of the Territories is at 2-2 after his 8-7 extra-end win over James Grattan of New Brunswick in the fifth draw; Cotter and Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario are 1-2; Grattan is 1-3; Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia is 0-3 and MacKenzie is 0-4.
Elsewhere in the fourth round, Howard got into the win column with a 7-4 victory over Adams, taking control with a draw for a piece of the four-foot for two in the ninth; Laycock drew the four-foot in the 11th end to beat Gagne 8-7 and Gushue made a double for two in the 11th to beat Jacobs 7-5.
In the morning’s third draw, Gagne opened with a three and added a four-spot in the eighth to beat MacKenzie 10-3, Jacobs scored two in the ninth and stole two in the 10th to beat Koe 11-8; Stoughton scored three in the fourth en route to an 8-3 win over Adams and Martin came from 3-0 down after two ends to beat Grattan 8-6.