Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin of Edmonton took another step on his quest to repeat that massive global honour on Friday afternoon at the Cranbrook RecPlex.
Martin clinched a berth in the men’s final of the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling by stealing the 7-6 winner with a precise last rock against Canadian champion Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg.
It was Martin’s fifth straight win in the seven-team competition while Stoughton dropped to 4-and-1.
Martin plays Mike McEwen of Winnipeg on the final qualifying draw at 7 p.m. MT while Stoughton faces defending champion Glenn Howard (3-2) of Coldwater, Ont. Howard needs a win to join Stoughton in Saturday’s semi-final. A Stoughton win probably would mean tiebreakers Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg’s young Chelsea Carey team, playing out of Morden, Man., clinched a berth in the women’s final by winning her fifth match in six starts. Carey needed a deuce in the 10th end to conquer four-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg 8-7. It was only Carey’s second victory over Jones in their last seven matches.
Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink improved to 4-and-1 with an 8-4 win over defending champion Stefanie Lawton (2-4) of Saskatoon. The loss eliminated Lawton. Kleibrink faces Rachel Homan (2-3) of Ottawa in today’s late draw.
Stoughton’s team scored a third-end deuce for a 3-1 lead and maintained control against Martin until the Edmonton squad fashioned a tying deuce in the 10th end to force overtime. With his last rock of the 11th, Martin rubbed his shooter to the button behind two guards at the top of the rings.
“ The rocks in the top 12 weren’t locked,” explained Martin afterward. “There was separation. And we rubbed in right behind them on the button.
“He (Stoughton) tried to drag the front ones with big weight and he did, but everything went out and we had a kicker that stood up.”
Most important, said Martin, is that his defending gold medallist team (John Morris, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hebert) is one win from another berth in the Canadian trials. Canada Cup winners take the first berths in the event slated at Winnipeg two years from now.
“The Olympics?” Martin repeated the question. “That’s why I’m still playing. I’ve been lucky enough to be at three and loved each one. Once we didn’t get to the podium, once a devastating loss, once a win. And I loved all three of them. I just loved them. And I think I’m healthy enough and playing well enough to try to get to one more.”
Stoughton wasn’t happy with the game’s final outcome.
“We win the game, we’re in the final,” he moaned. “Now they’re in the final. So, yeah, it’s a kick in the teeth. It sucks to lose to them so hopefully we’ll get another shot at them.
“We were winning most of the way and it was too bad I didn’t have a shot in the extra end to win it but he made a great shot, he feathered it straight sideways right to the button and I couldn’t get it out. It wasn’t going to go. I had to give it a shot. You never know. But it wasn’t going to stick around. He had the kicker.”
Carey (Kristy McDonald, Kristen Foster, Lindsay Titheridge) made a meal of the first two ends against Jones and trailed 3-0. But a steal of two in the fourth turned the game around. Then Jones stole two ends in a row to turn it around again.
In the end, Jones led by one in the 10th without the hammer after being forced to take one in the ninth. Jones jammed a double-kill attempt with her last rock, leaving Carey an open draw for the winning duet.
“Woo, that was battle of a game,” said Carey. “I personally missed a couple of terrible shots earlier and it was really back and forth. You get down 3-0 to Jennifer Jones you don’t think you’re coming back.
“My team played so great. They made a ton of shots for me every end. I missed them a couple of times and I made one at the end finally. That was a massive win so we’re really excited.
“If it’s not the biggest (win in the team’s history), it would certainly be in the top two or three,” she said. “I mean, winning this thing would obviously be the biggest. The Grand Slam title we won last year is the only other one that comes close, but this (game) was arguably as important.”
Carey’s team is relatively inexperienced compared to most of its foes in the competition that winds up with final matches on Sunday — women’s at 9 a.m., men’s at 1:30 p.m.
Canadian champion Amber Holland (2-3) of Kronau, Sask., remained in contention for a tiebreaker with a clutch last-rock rub in an extra end that earned her a stolen 8-7 win over Heather Nedohin (2-4) of Edmonton.
In a battle of men’s also-rans, Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie (1-5) closed out his schedule with an 11-4 whipping of Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock (1-4).
Laycock plays Calgary’s Kevin Koe (2-3) in another last-draw fracas at 7 p.m. MT.