It was all about the drama of Northern Ontario’s survival effort – a TV episode of a reality show that required a lot of things to happen for Brad Jacob’s Soo crew to endure … with a little help from his curling friends.
With Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland assured of weekend play, the only remaining interloper was Northern Ontario, who needed to win two Thursday games, and have Alberta’s Kevin Martin lose his deuce.
In that event, a tiebreaker would happen Friday.
Jacobs did his part, beating New Brunswick’s James Grattan 6-1, and for a while, it looked like Territores’ skipper Jamie Koe was going to rain on Martin’s parade.
Koe led the defending Olympic gold medalist by one heading into 10 without, and a series of great shots by his team, particularly third Tom Naugler, left Martin in tough spot, having to make a four-banger raise, to stick for two and win the game assuring his squad would be the fourth team on the weekend roster.
He made it.
When asked if it was the best shot he made all week, Martin replied “It was certainly the only shot I made all day,” he laughed, tipping his cap to Koe.
“They played great. I know Jamie very well, and he always plays tough against us,” says Martin who added frost was certainly a big factor in today’s play.”
Koe was happy with the way his Yellowknife squad battled, laughing when asked if he missed a chance to get a little revenge for his brother Kevin, who lost in the Alberta final to Martin.
“Yeah, that would have been alright, but Kevin’s a great curler and represents Alberta very well too.”
“Looking over at the other sheets, I was seeing a lot of missed shots out there,” he said.
Martin still has an outside shot at the Page 1/2 game Friday night, although in the post-game press scrum he didn’t seem to think so.
He suggested his team was resigned to the ¾ Page game Saturday, but curling officials confirmed should Brad Gushue lose to Quebec tonight and Martin beat’s Ontario’s Glenn Howard tonight, it would set up a Manitoba/Alberta ½ affair.
“We’re just trying to stay loose and go out there and play well against Glenn tonight and see what happens,” said Martin.
Jacobs was happy with his team’s play this afternoon, and the way they grew more confident through the week.
Obviously disappointed at being eliminated from weekend play, he says his crew learned a lot from the week and will continue to grow.
“You look back at a few moments… shots over the week, sure, but we played well, and I think we learned some valuable lessons and we look forward to being back. That’s how good this field is, you miss one or two shots over the week and it makes the difference going into the weekend.”
Stoughton had a scare of his own.
Although he was through to the weekend heading into his game against Quebec’s Francois Gagne, placing was still at issue.
Heading into the eighth end, his Manitoba crew found itself tied at four, but the Winnipeg crew scored a deuce, stole two more and coasted to an 8-4 win.
Stoughton stayed out to watch Martin’s circus heroics and says it is shots like that that makes him the great curler he is.
“Those are the kind of shots Kevin lives for, it was a great shot for sure.”
Stoughton is happy with his now-completed round-robin, the team’s goal was to make it to the weekend, something he could not do last year with a 7-4 mark, so he says he’s satisfied for now.
Nova Scotia ran its record to 4-6 with a 12-3 win over P.E.I.’s Eddie Mackenzie who finishes at 1-10.
The last draw features the Martin/Howard showdown as well as Gushue’s match-up with Quebec. Also on the ice, Northern Ontario plays Saskatchewan and B.C. takes on Nova Scotia.
“It’s great to be 9-2, but nothing’s secure other than hammer in the ¾ game so we’ll just wait and see what happens,” says Stoughton.
“Kevin (Martin) has our fate in his hands, or else Glenn (Howard) does, depending on what way you want to look at it.”
A Gushue win guarantees him a spot in the Page ½ game.
If Martin beats Howard tonight and Quebec beats Newfoundland/Labrador, it will set up a Stoughton/Martin Page ½ game. A Howard win also buys him a spot in that game .