Howard hits rock milestone

STEVE GREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:31 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- It may have not been the thriller worthy of such a milestone, but it's a number Glenn Howard is proud to have.

The veteran Ontario skip won his 125th career game at the Canadian men's curling championship Wednesday, an 11-1 drubbing of Eddie MacKenzie of P.E.I., in the afternoon's 13th draw at the Tim Hortons Brier at the John Labatt Centre.

It left Howard at 7-2, tied for third with Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador, a half-game behind Kevin Martin of Alberta and Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba, who met Wednesday night.

"That's unbelievable," Howard said when reminded of the win total, the most for any player, regardless of positions played, in Brier history. It was his 62nd win as a skip, with the other 63 coming as third for brother Russ (the career skip wins leader with 113).

"Are you kidding me? I can't believe I'm leading in that statistic, but I'm pretty proud to have it. That's a lot of wins over 13 Briers."

Howard, who curls out of the Coldwater and District Curling Club, said the secret has been being able to surround himself with quality players throughout his career, starting with Russ, Tim Belcourt and Kent Carstairs in the 1980s; with Wayne Middaugh and Peter Corner in the early 1990s; then with his current squad of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill, which is in its sixth consecutive Brier together.

It's a team that rebounded from a 5-4 extra-end loss to Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario in the morning to take it to the Islanders right off the bat, stealing threes in the first and second ends and three more in the fifth, by which time MacKenzie had had enough. They shook hands -- Howard was just coming back from the bathroom during the fifth-end break -- and that earned MacKenzie a $500 fine from the Canadian Curling Association for failing to play the minimum seven ends.

In their morning game, Jacobs scored a pair in the eighth to counter a Howard deuce in the previous end, forced Ontario to take one in the 10th and then made an open hit in the extra end for the win. It moved the Moose Men to 4-4 -- the only other team mathematically alive for a playoff spot heading into Wednesday night's draw, where he played MacKenzie.

"Tell me about it," Jacobs said when it was said he needed that win. "It felt good to finally put a solid performance together. We played the scoreboard well and that two in eight was huge, definitely the best end we've put together all week."

Ontario had won 16 of the previous 17 meetings at the Brier.

"We've kind of been dominated, so it was nice to get one back for Northern Ontario," Jacobs said.

Howard had no complaints.

"Brad's boys played terrific and I thought we played well, too. Every team here is tough and I didn't expect anything less from Brad. They just didn't make any mistakes -- and they got two great chip shots from Scott (lead Seabrook, who took two Ontario guards out of useful play without removing them outright) in the 11th end and that basically won the game for them."

Gushue won twice Wednesday -- beating Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia 9-3 in the morning and James Grattan of New Brunswick 6-5 in the afternoon, to all but wrap up a playoff spot.

"It's a good position to be in; we still have a chance to get to the 1-2 game," said Gushue, who faces Stoughton Thursday morning and is relishing the timing. "We usually don't like mornings off, because then you're just sitting around watching TV and eating only one meal and getting a little sluggish. At least when you play in the morning, you get into a routine right away."

Stoughton, who had the morning off, edged Steve Laycock 7-6 in an extra end in the afternoon to drop the Saskatchewan skip to 4-5 and out of playoff contention. Also out of the running are Adams and Jamie Koe of the Territories at 3-5, Jim Cotter of B.C. at 3-6, Grattan and Francois Gagne of Quebec at 2-6 and MacKenzie at 1-7.


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