Eight remain in Hot Shots hunt

Even the Ford Hot Shots competition is becoming part of the Kevin Martin-Glenn Howard rivalry. A year ago, Howard won the lease on the Ford gas buggies. Now Martin, the Olympic gold-medal-winning skip, is honing his shooting skills and taking a run at the pre-Brier points competition. Martin scored 27 of a possible 30 points during the preliminary firing at the John Labatt Centre on Friday. And, lo and behold, standing right beside him in the points standing was Ontario third Richard Hart, another 27-pointer. Howard? He failed to qualify for today’s final eight, which commences at 12:30 p.m. today. The pre-event shotmaking competition requires curlers to execute six shots: Hit-and-stay, draw-the-button, draw-theport, raise, hit-and-roll and double-takeout.  Each shot is awarded points on a scale from 0-5, rating the success of each. All 48 Brier starters began the competition, whittling the field to eight for today’s action. There was some potent shooting on Friday, indicating that icemaker Hans Wuthrich’s freeze is rounding into shape early. Quebec rookie Christian Bouchard, who plays second stone, trailed the two leaders by a single point. He checked in with 26 of a possible 30. Tied at 25 points each are Newfoundland second Ryan Fry and Alberta third John Morris. Jammed at the 23-point level were Brad Jacobs, the North Ontario skip, Alberta second Marc Kennedy and B.C. vice-slip Ken Maskiewich. Following quarter-final eliminations, semi-finals and finals will decide the winner of a two-year lease on a 2011 Ford Edge SEL FWD, an approximate retail value of $22,000. In addition to lease on the car, the second-place finishers will be presented with a cheque for $2,000, while the third-place finishers receive $1,000. Other past Hot Shots winners at the Brier have been Manitoba’s Steve Gould (twice), Greg McAulay and Pat Ryan of British Columbia, Alberta’s Don Bartlett, Randy Ferbey and Morris, Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock, Northern Ontario’s Mike Coulter, Ontario’s Ed Werenich and Craig Savill, New Brunswick’s Rick Perron, Jeff Lacey and Marc LeCocq, Newfoundland/Labrador’s Mark Nichols.