Sometimes it’s hard to separate family from curling.
Such was the case Tuesday morning in Calgary, when the Midland born and raised Howard brothers, Russ and Glenn, faced each other in a historic meeting at the Tim Hortons Brier.
In the end, it wasn’t the titanic battle the fans at the Penngrowth Saddledome had been hoping for, but it was one for the history books.
"I got a big kick playing against Glenn and I know he enjoyed it," said Russ, speaking with TSN following the game.
It marked only the second time in the long history of the Brier that two brothers had skipped against each other in a national men’s curling final.
Glenn Howard’s Coldwater and District Curling Club rink scored three points in each of the first and fifth ends, en route to a 7-2 win over the New Brunswick rink, skipped by Russ.
"It was pretty cool to play against my brother and it’s too bad we had that bad shot on that angle raise in the fifth end, or else it might have been a closer game," said Russ.
The win helped the Team Ontario rink, skipped by Glenn and consisting of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill ,maintain an unbeaten record at the Brier, improving to 6-0.
Kevin Martin’s Alberta rink kept pace with Howard, posting a decisive win over British Columbia on Tuesday morning to also improve to 6-0.
To add to the Howard threesome, Steven Howard played with his dad Russ on Tuesday morning.
"It’s just an awesome experience playing in my first Brier with my dad and playing against my Uncle Glenn," said Steven, 24.
Russ said playing with his son will be a moment he’ll remember for the rest of his life.
"When your son is born, you count his fingers and toes and you hope he is healthy. When he is three or four then you start thinking about how cool it will be when he starts kicking a baseball or soccer ball around. Like me ,you hope he plays golf. But for him to play in my sport (curling) is totally unbelieveable. Steven is soaking it up and living the dream. To play against Glenn is such a bonus," said Russ.
In providing an exclamation mark to the brother battle, Glenn helped the New Brunswick rink sweep the final shot by Russ into the house, before the two teams shook hands.
The Howard family was well represented at the rink on Tuesday, with Glenn receiving cheering support from wife Judy and son Scott.
In Calgary, Russ was cheered on by his wife Wendy and daughter Ashley, who earlier this year skipped her own team to an appearance at a Canadian finals in the junior division.
Meanwhile, Barbara Howard spent Tuesday morning at the Midland Curling Club watching her two sons battle on ice in the company of friends and fellow curling fans.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first, the Ontario rink later increased its lead to 4-1 in the fourth end.
In the fifth end, Russ attempted an angle raise to score one, but instead rolled his own shot stone to far and surrendered three to Glenn, increasing the Ontario lead to 7-1.
Visibly angered by missing the shot, Russ Howard displayed a rare burst of anger in front of the thousands in attendance, slamming his curling broom against the ice.
"I played an angle raise and tried to punch it (the rock) through a hole that wasn’t even there," said Russ later.
Given the dominance of the Glenn Howard team within the curling world this year, Russ knew
he had a tough test going into the game. "They have such a great team. We didn’t really expect to post a win when we woke up this morning," said Russ, who is making a record 14th appearance at the Brier.
With the loss to Team Ontario, New Brunswick dropped to 2-4 in the standings.
Russ Howard and his rink went on to play the Jeff Stoughton rink from Manitoba on Tuesday afternoon, with Glenn Howard scheduled to face the same Manitoba rink in the evening draw.