Ontario upsets Alberta in Brier playoff

STEVE GREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:11 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. – Finally, Glenn Howard has beaten Kevin Martin at the competition he cherishes the most.

After seven straight losses at the Canadian men’s curling championship, the Ontario skip scored two in the 10th without having to throw his last stone to beat his Alberta nemesis 5-4 in the Page 3-4 playoff game at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier.

After Martin had stolen one in the ninth, Howard had his deuce set up. Martin tried an angle bump, attempting to weld his own stone onto the Ontario shot rock, but was a little outside and Howard didn’t have to play his final stone.

“I love the schedule,” said an exasperated Howard, who had to play Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador in the semifinal less than 90 minutes later. “Everything for the players, right? The good news is I’m happy we won. It’s been a long time coming.

“It was a hell of a game, with great shots by both teams. We were a little unfortunate to give up that steal in the ninth when we had a deuce set up, but the boys just kept coming at them and I’m proud of ’em.”

Asked if he feared an emotional letdown against Gushue, Howard cracked: “I don’t know if we have time for a letdown, but it was obviously an emotional win.”

Martin now drops to the bronze-medal game Sunday afternoon against the semifinal loser and while he had a smile on his face, it was clear the loss pained him.

“Man, what a game,” he said. “We had that big steal in nine, but he had us up against a wall in 10. If my last one curls another inch, then our stone is welded on his in the eight-foot and there’s no deuce.

“But you know, Glenn and I have come home tied (or one up either way) so often, it’s OK if I lose one.”

Still, playing for third isn’t an appealing end to his Brier.

“We played a heck of a game against them and they played a heck of a game against us. They on, we lost. Please make it (the bronze-medal game) go away.”

After the teams took turns either denying themselves a multiple-point end through half-shots or making great ones to hold the opposition to a single, Howard scored the game’s first deuce when he made a nice comearound hit with down weight to take a 3-2 lead in the fifth.

Howard elected to make a big-weight hit with his last shot in the sixth instead of coming down to a couple of rocks at the back of the four-foot and hold Martin to one. The Alberta skip then hit and rolled out to blank the end and retain hammer.

In the seventh, the teams kept it wide open and traded hits. Martin blanked, but not before almost flashing his last-rock hit. A couple of Alberta mistakes in the eighth set up a potential big steal for Ontario, and Martin opted to draw for one against two Howard counters instead of opting for a tough double and roll out to blank.

In the ninth, Howard followed a Martin draw to the lid and both stones covered half of the button. They were too close to the pinhole to use the measuring device and after a visual inspection, the teams agreed Alberta’s was shot and an official verified the steal of one for Martin and a 4-3 Alberta lead.

Howard, though, said his team didn’t panic.

“Richard (third Hart) said it best: ‘It’s not that bad, boys.’ ”

About 15 minutes later, it got a whole lot better.


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