Top three playoff spots determined at Brier - one more up for grabs

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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CALGARY - The build-up to the game was growing all week, and when it was said and done Kevin Martin versus Glenn Howard lived up to the hype.
Alberta's Martin beat Ontario's Howard 7-5 in a battle of the top two teams Thursday at the Tim Hortons Brier in a match that came down to the last shot.
Howard attempted a thin double with his final shot in the 10th end and missed by a whisker. If he had made it he would have won and finished first in the round robin. But the miss gave Martin the win and first overall.
"I've never had so much fun in curling in that game," said an exhilarated Howard immediately after the game.
"I thoroughly enjoyed that. I thought the shotmaking was exceptional. That to me is what I thought the final last year was going to be like. I tell you guys, that was awesome."
Martin finished the round robin with an 11-0 record and set a record for consecutive wins at the Brier with 24 - eclipsing the old record of 23 held by Randy Ferbey. Like Howard, he said the game couldn't have gone better.
"Fantastic. Glenn and I were talking about that in the 10th and it was like holy - that's something else," said Martin who gets choice of stones and hammer in the 1-versus-2 Page playoff game Friday night.
"If he just gets by with his last one he may have done what he wanted to do but it would have been tough because the rock's spinning the wrong way," he added.
"It was just a battle. It was great. Fantastic shooting by both teams," Martin said.
Howard finished with a 9-2 record and will potentially meet Martin again twice - in the Page playoff game and, if both men continue to win, in the final.
Team Ontario decided to go for the riskier shot than trying to score one and force an extra end.
"Rich (Hart) and I discussed it and he said no matter where he puts this rock, if there's a shot for two we're going for it."
Martin said he would love to play Howard twice more.
"Hopefully we'll see three," laughed Martin. "But there is someone else who is not going to want to see that but it sure was fun."
Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador finished in third place with an 8-3 record after thrashing Saskatchewan 8-3.
"I thought that was by far our best game of the week," said Gushue, who will have to await a tie-breaker playoff game Friday between Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton before he knows his opponent.
"It would be nice to be in the one-two game but the three-four game gives us an opportunity and it's a lot shorter road than the tiebreaker road so we're pretty happy at this point."
The 3-versus-4 Page playoff game between Gushue and his opponent is scheduled for Saturday morning.
Menard held on for a 7-6 win over Mike Jakubo of Northern Ontario in a game that went an extra end.
"That was not our best game. We'll have to do some adjustments against Mr. Stoughton . If not it is going to be short-lived," said Menard.
"We're pretty happy. To win five in a row after starting 2-4 was quite a task."
Stoughton won both of his games Thursday, including a 7-5 victory over Joel Jordison of Saskatchewan to finish at 7-4.
"You look in the mirror and you just want to play. There's a lot of pride at stake and you just don't want to come out and have stinkers," said Stoughton.
"I'm satisfied now because it got us something. It would have been nice to get the eighth win but we'll take it. We at least get to play another day."

Geographic location: Ontario, CALGARY, Alberta Newfoundland and Labrador Quebec Manitoba Northern Ontario Saskatchewan

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