It’s Randy Ferbey vs. Kevin Martin, one more time, in the Canada Cup at the Gallagher Centre.
This occasion is the men’s championship final, a fixture Ferbey has won three times and Martin twice in the last six years. The action goes tonight at 7:30 pm CT/9:30 pm ET, live on TSN.
Ferbey, the six-time Brier champ directing a four-time Brier champion team, caught Martin with a cold hand on Saturday morning and advanced to the final with a 6-2 decision anchored by a three-ender in the seventh panel.
Martin then bounced back Saturday night in a rematch of last Sunday’s Brier finalists at Calgary and again defeated Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg 8-3 in the semi-final.
“The ice was so much better tonight,” said Martin. “You could bury rocks. We were taking four, three-and-a-half feet and we were taking less than two earlier. So that’s a significant difference.
“If the ice is like this, it (tonight’s final) is going to be a heckuva game.”
Stoughton reached the semi by dealing out Toronto’s Wayne Middaugh 5-3 in the morning’s sudden-death Page playoff match.
“Things were definitely going their (Martin’s) way this week,” assessed Ferbey’s last-rock dispenser David Nedohin in the wake of the morning decision.
“Today things didn’t go their way. They had a game where they were a little flat and we played reasonably well. The ice is tricky but I think we adjusted well.” Ferbey took a go-ahead single in the fourth, stole one in the fifth and put the wraps on the affair in the seventh.
“Straight, straight, straight,” said Martin, nodding toward the ice. ” You can’t bury a thing out there. I think we’re curling pretty good. I don’t think we’re out of gas. You just can’t bury to save yourself. You can’t come around and that’s frustrating. But we’ll come out again and deal with it.”
The loss was the second straight for the Martin team after winning five at provincials, 13 at the Brier and its first four at this Canada Cup.
It was a different story on the late shift.
“We got to be aggressive to start the game and that gave us the lead,” reasoned Martin. “You could bury, so we got aggressive and got the lead. And that’s the way we like to play.
“Sometimes you get nipped, though. You have to watch it. That’s when my dad gets mad at me because he always tells me to be more careful.”
Nedohin looked upon the earlier victory as inevitable.
“It was bound to happen eventually that we’d beat them and I’m glad it was today,” he said. “We may have to do it again but, like I’ve said, they’ve struggled throughout the week, they lost last night, they lost to us.
“We’re just happy to be in the final and to sort of get that monkey off our backs — probably an ape, actually.
“We’ve never walked into games with them thinking they were unbeatable. In fact, we felt a lot of games we lost to them we deserved to win. It was just the wrong shot at the wrong time, or a huge bailout shot by them, something they’re very good at.
So we never got frustrated by how we were playing. It’s just that the results weren’t there.”
Today’s winner will pick up $28,200. The loser gets $18,200. Stoughton picked up $13,200.
“More important for us right now is to get on a bit of a roll over the next number of months as opposed to what has happened in the last 12 months,” said Nedohin.
He admitted Tim Yeo’s ice differed somewhat Saturday morning.
“The ice changed a little bit and it was pretty difficult to bury, no question. It meant the game was decided more by mistakes than really great shots. But we adjusted well to it and that’s what we focus on. If the ice is different, adjust to it.”
He said it was clear the Martins “got more frustrated with the ice than we did”.
“We just try to hang in there and say, ‘it is what it is’ and try to do our best on it.”
Martin scored on the first three ends against Stoughton, led 4-0, gave up a fourth-end deuce, then salted it away with three in the fifth.
“You have to make shots to win any game, whether it’s against him (Martin) or anybody else. We didn’t get any rocks in play and you can’t beat these guys if you don’t make any shots.
“Last week (in the Brier final), I missed a draw in the second end, a draw in the third that was pretty much it. We were done and it was chasing after that.
“I don’t think you have to be perfect. We watched their games this week and they certainly weren’t perfect. They could have had three losses early and guys were choking their brains out. But they definitely played their best game of the week right here tonight. That’s what they needed to do.”