Howard win streak snapped
Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard has a habit of coming up big at the Brier, a fact Glenn Howard knows all too well. Wednesday afternoon in Calgary, Menard, the 2006 Brier champion, was the first to topple the mighty, previously unbeaten Howard rink at this week’s national curling championships in Calgary. Menard beat the three-time world champs 8-5 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. "Jean-Michel is one of those skips who knows what it takes to win at the Brier and if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game with you, you are going to lose," said Howard. Coupled with a 9-7 win over the Jamie Koe rink from the Northwest Territories/Yukon on Wednesday morning, the Howard rink sits in second place with an 8-1 record, heading into the final day of round-robin play on Thursday at the Brier. Kevin Martin’s Alberta rink defeated the Jeff Stoughton rink from Manitoba 7-2 on Wednesday evening to move on top of the Brier standings with a perfect 9-0 record. Midland native Russ Howard kept his New Brunswick rink in contention for a possible playoff berth by posting a 7-4 win over Prince Edward Island late Wednesday evening. The win improved Howard’s record to 5-4, leaving him in a four-way tie for fourth place heading into the final day of round-robin play on Thursday. Heading into his game against Menard, Glenn Howard felt he had a score to settle, dating back three years. Dominating the field and seemingly on his way to a Brier championship win in 2006 in Regina, Howard and teammates Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill had their hopes dashed by Menard in the final that year. Later, Howard would state that loss to Menard was probably one of the toughest of his lengthy competitive career. In what has been a disturbing pattern in recent Brier contests, Team Ontario found itself trailing 2-0 to Quebec after the first end, but rebounded to tie the game at 3-3 after four ends. Menard then struck for three big points in the fifth end to move ahead 6-3 and led 7-4 after seven ends. Howard managed to narrow the gap to 7-5 after the eighth end, but Menard added one point in the ninth end to seal the win and snap Ontario’s winning streak at eight games. In their earlier win over the day over Koe, team Howard once again trailed by a 5-2 score after four ends of play. But the Coldwater rink rebounded with three points in each of the seventh and ninth ends to pull out a 9-7 win. In other Brier action Wednesday, Russ Howard and his New Brunswick team went down to defeat against the Brad Gushue rink from Newfoundland/Labrador. Howard lost 8-5 in a reunion of the two skips, who combined to win a gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. On Thursday morning Glenn Howard battles the Dacey rink from Nova Scotia, before moving on to the evening showdown with Kevin Martin’s Alberta rink, in a game which will probably decide first place in the standings. But before facing Howard, Martin will also face Dacey in Thursday afternoon action. Russ Howard and his rink will close out round-robin play Thursday with games againt the NWT/Yukon and British Columbia.