Going into Thursday night’s tussle at the Farrell Agencies Arena, he said he should have been 0-and-3! Whatever the case, Edmonton’s Kevin Martin, who repeated as Brier champion last week at Calgary, has some kind of charm riding on his shoulder at the Canada Cup.
“Whatever it is, I hope it doesn’t fall off,” Martin said. “I’m just not playing very well. I don’t know. I’m not clear in the head right yet. A few more sleeps and we’ll see if I can shake it off.
“It seems like we’re throwing pretty good but we’re just not getting the results. It’s a little frustrating but we’re also getting a little fortunate so what the heck?”
What the heck, indeed!
Martin cracked his fourth straight win with an 7-6 night-shift win over Saville Centre rival Ted Appelman of Edmonton, a comparative babe in the woods on a sheet of ice with Martin and his powerhouse lineup of John Morris, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert. Appelman had battled back to square the account heading into the 10th end but couldn’t force Martin to wield the hammer to win.
Earlier, Martin rallied for three straight wins. On Thursday morning, Mike McEwen (2-2) of Winnipeg gassed an open draw to the four-foot to yield an 8-7 duke. On Day One, Martin’s turnaround victims were Russ Howard and Brad Gushue.
“It’s a big opportunity for us playing here,” said Appelman. “For some of our guys it’s the biggest event they’ve played in. It was a little unnerving the first two games. But we’re a little more comfortable now and it showed today, we played really well.”
Which means nothing much when you’re tangling with Martin who has found more winning routes than you’ll find in Nevada.
“Hey,” said Appelman. “We’re looking at the top teams in Canada and we’re a little out of our comfort zone. The first day it really showed in our play. “It’s that old saying, you have to be lucky to win but you have to be good to be lucky. What can you say, they’re the best team in the world right now.”
Not much argument there. But Martin still has one opponent today — he closes against Wayne Middaugh (2-1) of Toronto— before advancing to the Page playoff system involving the top two teams from each of the round-robin sections.
“It’s tough coming down from the Brier,” agreed Martin. “There’s inspiration here but it’s hard to find. You have to dig deep and we actually are digging deep but we keep having to come from behind. But we have and we’ve won so that bodes well. But it’s sure nothing fancy.”
Martin disagreed that the invisible target on his back was any more magnified than usual.
“I’m missing a lot of shots,” he said. “I’m down 20 per cent from the Brier. I’m just shooting about 70 right now and just staying close and hoping for a break and we’ve — whew! — got ’em so far.”
Martin said the Farrell freeze was improving with every draw, a contention that brought a chuckle from head icemaker Tim Yeo of Gibbons, Alta.
“Four draws the first day is tough,” said Yeo. “You can’t tinker with anything because it’s in use all the time. It’s tough to work on improvements when there are games all the time. It takes more than a day to bring good ice around.”
Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg, Martin’s victim in the Brier final last Sunday, remained unbeaten in the other section of the split round-robin draw but faces two opponents today — Randy Ferbey (2-1) and Appelman (1-3).
Stoughton’s lone assignment on Thursday was against his provincial final opponent, Kerry Burtnyk. Stoughton reiterated his superiority there, by an 8-5 count.
Ferbey’s last-rock shooter Dave Nedohin delivered a last-rock chip to defeat defending champion Kevin Koe (2-2) of Edmonton 6-5.
Earlier, Koe dumped Russ Howard (0-3) of Oromocto, N.B. 7-5, Appelman upended Burtnyk 6-4 and Middaugh shaded Brad Gushue (1-3) of St. John’s 7-6. Gushue lost his second of the day, 8-5 to McEwen.
“Things haven’t been going our way the past few weeks,” moaned Gushue. “We’re digging ourselves deep holes.”
This is the first tournament in two years that Koe has taken over last-rock duties as well as shot-calling for his defending champion team that normally calls for third Blake MacDonald to toss the last pair.
“We’ve been struggling a bit and I thought we’d try changing it up and pick up a bit of a spark,” said Koe. “It’s by no means permanent but if you keep winning it’s tough to change. We haven’t had the greatest year and we’re all confident with the lineup like this as well. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
Koe isn’t out of this affair yet and gets Burtnyk in his last match today. Against Howard, Koe executed a perfect double with his last rock with his opponent lying shot rock buried.
“That’s one of my better spots to throw that shot and it just hung on,” Koe said.