Middaugh has his own record in sight

Ontario skip Glenn Howard (left) and third Wayne Middaugh stand together during a break in play...

Ontario skip Glenn Howard (left) and third Wayne Middaugh stand together during a break in play against Prince Edward Island at The Brier in Saskatoon, Sask., March 7, 2012. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

SASKATOON - Wayne Middaugh had never given it a thought. Not even while riding on snowmobiles with Glenn Howard on the frozen tundra for days and days together.

Not once had Middaugh ever considered curling for his best friend, going to a Brier together again like they did curling together with for Russ Howard and maybe even getting to the next Olympics together.

Not once did it cross his mind that he might end up here, where Howard is setting Brier records for games played with every game he plays (Wednesday being No. 177 and 178) but suddenly closing in on a real good one for himself, too.

Nobody has ever won a Brier as a skip, a third and a second before. But Middaugh is going to the weekend in position to do it now.

“It’s something I’m not thinking about, but it would be cool,” said Middaugh, who is in his eighth Brier.

With Glenn at third, Middaugh played second for Russ to win in 1993 and then won it as a skip in 1998.

Middaugh and Howard have been best buddies since the five years they used to curl together for old Hurry Hard.

On stretches when one or the other are not playing in a cash spiel somewhere, you can find them out snowmobiling together.

“We don’t just go out and snowmobile for an hour or two together. We take some really long trips,” said Middaugh.

“We took one for four days a couple years ago. We went from Midland to North Bay to Temagami and Timiskaming, and into Quebec.”

You ask Middaugh how far he lives from Howard and he says it depends.

“Ten minutes by snowmobile.

“Twenty minutes by boat.

“Half hour by car.”

Middaugh lives in Victoria Harbour. He’s the general manager of the Port Carling Golf & Country Club.

Howard lives in Penetanguishene. He’s manager of a beer store in Midland.

They curl out of Coldwater, which is actually closer to Middaugh’s house than Howard’s.

“We’re good friends,” said Howard. “We’ve been curling together on Tuesday nights with our wives for 16 years.”

You’d think a couple of best buddies who spent that much time together would have at some point mentioned the idea of someday curling with each other again. But that’s not the way this all went down.

It was only days before last year’s Canada Cup in Medicine Hat when Glenn called out of the blue.

“He said ‘Are you free this weekend?’ ” said Middaugh. “I said ‘Sure. Why?’ He said ‘I need a spare.’ Until that moment, I’d never played third before in my life.”

With normal third Richard Hart out of the lineup, Middaugh flew to Medicine Hat and played great as Howard scored a rare triumph over Edmonton’s Kevin Martin in the final to win the event.

It never crossed his mind that he’d get another call to curl for Glenn again, much less one asking him if he’d like to try get to the Sochi 2014 Olympics together.

“That Richie had decided to retire was news to me,” he said of Hart.

If Middaugh hadn’t subbed for him at the Canada Cup in Medicine Hat, would this have happened?

“Probably not,” he said.

Howard said Medicine Hat proved it could work.

“The transition turned out to be seamless. We know each other so well. He knows what buttons to push with me, what to say to me and what not to say to me.

“I give him full credit. He’s adapted to the position. He didn’t know it from Adam. He had a lot of years playing second and a lot of years skipping.”

To the curling public there’s a dramatic difference between Russ and Glenn Howard. Russ had the image of being gruff and tough while Glenn looks and acts much more mild mannered, but now that he’s played for both as his skip, Middaugh says there’s not that much difference.

“They are a lot more alike than you think,” he said.

“They’re both pretty intense. Glenn’s just not as loud, that’s all.”

Middaugh wasn’t known for working as hard at the game as Howard, but he decided to pour himself into it.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight,” he said.

“Hey, I haven’t had to sweep since I played with Russ in 1994.”

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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