Ontario’s heavy favourite just got heavier at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Glenn Howard’s Coldwater juggernaut, winner of the Canadian and world curling titles in 2007, won its fourth straight match on Monday afternoon at the Metro Centre, outlasting James Grattan’s New Brunswick crew 7-4.
The Draw-Seven match was tighter than the score indicated but after Howard deflected a third-end threat with a last-rock triple takeout, Ontario remained in control, stretching a 2-1 lead to 3-1 after a blank third, then finally hammering the final nail in the coffin with three in the eighth.
The game featured another family argument, with Howard’s nephew Steven playing third for the Herringchokers.
“It was a pretty well-curled game,” allowed the Ontario skip. “They had a couple of bad breaks. But we’re improving every time out. We want to win every game, that’s our goal, make the playoffs and then see what we can do there. Things seem to be getting more consistent. I think momentum seems to be on our side.”
It usually is at this stage of the Brier. The last time Howard lost after winning his first four — in 2007 — he went on to win the Canadian title.
“That game, remarkably, we were set up four or five ends,” moaned Grattan, who has lost three straight after two wins on Saturday. “Just one shot would mess it up.
“I really like the way we’re playing this time. We’re playing real well. It’s just one or two shots a game. Sometimes you just can’t win. I get a double, he gets a triple. But if I get the roll on the double he doesn’t have anything. That’s the way it’s going.”
Grattan said his team needs to turn the losing streak around Tuesday morning against Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario.
“Right now, we’re one game behind our goal, based on the draw, but that includes the necessity to finish up strong.”
Jacobs posted a key win to climb to 3-and-2 with a 7-6 victory over Saskatchewan’s Darrell McKee (2-2).
“This was a really big win,” said Jacobs. “They’re a tough team. Their stats were right up at the top. So we knew we had to win this one and get ahead of the curve.
“I’m getting a lot of support from my team and we have a lot of confidence. You have to have everybody firing on all cylinders when you come to an event like this and hope to do well.”
Jacobs said his team checked out the Brier Patch on Sunday night, “because we didn’t play until three today but we won’t be going back there as long as we’re playing in this’.
“I mean, there doesn’t seem to be anything like one or two beers in Nova Scotia. So we’re going to stay out.”
McKee said his team “got behind early and didn’t pick up on the ice quick enough”.
“We can’t lose more than two more,” he surmised. “And that might be one loss too many depending on how dominant the top teams are. So now we have to beat one of the top three we have left to play. And that starts tonight against Alberta.
Kevin Koe’s outfit lost its first of the week on the morning shift, 7-5 to British Columbia’s Jeff Richard. Elsewhere on Monday afternoon, Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton extended his record to 4-and-1 with a 6-3 conquest of Quebec’s Serge Reid. And Rod MacDonald’s Prince Edward Islanders won their first, a 9-3 drubbing of Jamie Koe’s winless Territories team from Yellowknife.
In other evening action Monday, Ontario returns against Nova Scotia’s Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc (0-4) while Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador (3-and-1) faces P.E.I. (1-3) and B.C. (2-2) clashes with Quebec (2-2).
Said Stoughton of the rookie Quebec entry. “They seem a little inexperienced, a couple of questionable calls here and there, but they throw pretty good so they deserve to be here.”