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100 and counting

For Alberta’s Kevin Martin, his 29th consecutive Brier win, 8-2 over B.C.’s Jim Cotter in the afternoon draw also put him at the century mark for the event. It’s a milestone he didn’t realize until it was brought up in the post-game media scrum.

Kevin Martin (Photo: Michael Burns Photography)

“You guys keep reminding me about that stuff,” said Martin who shrugged off the mark, remembering that his first win at a Brier was against “whoever we played in the first game in Hamilton (1991), I really don’t remember.”

For the Alberta crew of Martin, John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert, the most important stat this day is their record is now 3-0 with the evening draw off.

“It was a big game for us, we played a lot better out there,” said Martin who added he didn’t feel he curled very well in the morning’s 8-6 win over James Grattan of New Brunswick.

Martin will face P.E.I. in Monday afternoon’s draw.

Another skip who has enjoyed his share of Brier success, Ontario’s Glenn Howard, rebounded with a hard-fought 7-4 win over Shawn Adams of Nova Scotia, who remains winless at 0-3.

The win evened Howard’s mark at 1-1 after losing his opener to Grattan Saturday. It was his 68th as a skipper and 131st overall combining his wins with brother Russ who holds the Brier skip mark at 113.

“You gotta put as many wins under your belt as possible and it was good to get that one,” said Howard.

“It’s one win and hopefully it’s the start of many.”

Howard says his team still is struggling with the ice and not curling as well as they can, playing just “OK,” but he’s not too concerned about that yet.

“Rich (Hart)’s played great, Craig (Savill) played great… Brent (Laing) and I struggled that game.

“It’s great ice but it’s not exacting,” said Howard who says his team has been “guessing” a bit at times.

The win sets up a huge match-up with Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock (2-0) in the evening draw. The Green Machine won a see-saw, extra-end battle with previously unbeaten Quebec.

In that contest, Francois Gagne battled back from a late 7-4 deficit, scoring a deuce in nine and stealing one in 10 to force an extra end. That forced Pat Simmons, who throws last rock for the Regina crew, to make a shot with his last brick for an 8-7 win, an open draw to the eight-foot.

“I think that was only my second draw of the game, I played a lot of hits today,” said Simmons.

“That was big for us, early in the week, it’s always important to put up the wins, you can’t be (chasing) it all week. But especially this one now, it’s that much more important,” he said previewing tonight’s showdown with Howard.

Another extra-end affair boasted one of the best chess matches seen at the John Labatt Centre so far this week, as Newfoundland/Labrador’s Brad Gushue outlasted Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs 7-5.

Jacobs had hammer, down one coming home and it looked like Gushue had handed him an opportunity to score a deuce and win the game when his last rock slid too far providing backing for the Soo curler.

“That was a back and forth game and we probably should have lost it in the tenth there, I thought Brad had a relatively easy shot there, but fortunately it ticked the guard and gave us a chance to win in the extra,” said Gushue.

It was a game that saw some pinpoint shots by both skips at critical times in the game – Jacobs with a nice angle-chip in the third against four NL stones well covered and Gushue with a key double in eight to score a deuce.

The skipper from The Rock says the ice has been confusing for he and his mates.

“For all my Briers, right now, this is probably the most uncomfortable I’ve been with the ice after two games. Yesterday, it was frosty when we played and today there was not much frost and we’re still trying to figure out spots on the ice.

“I got just absolutely killed in the first end on my two shots. I misjudged them totally… but we’re getting closer.”

Gushue sits at 2-0, looking for his third win tonight against B.C.

Northern Ontario drops to 1-2.

Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton will look to go 4-0 when he plays P.E.I.’s Eddie MacKenzie (0-3), while the Territories take on New Brunswick.

For Martin, who beat Chuck Haines of the Territories in Draw 1 of the 1991 Hamilton Brier, to answer the trivia question, says he’ll leave the statistics focus to the media and worry about the numbers when he’s finished playing.

“We’re not done yet, I don’t plan on retiring for a few more years yet,” said Martin.

“I don’t really want this to be my last Brier, so we’ll see.

“Koe (Alberta arch-rival Kevin) would love it to be, though.”