Howard rises to the top

It was a clear case of the rich getting richer at the Tim Hortons Brier on Wednesday afternoon. Ontario’s Glenn Howard went top-of-the-table with an 8-1 record, turning a close contest against P.E.I. into a runaway 10-5 win. The loss dropped the Islanders to 2-6. The parting of the field seems to have the two pre-event favourites set to collide in the final draw Thursday for first place when Howard takes on Alberta.

Glenn Howard throws a rock at the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

Howard maintains there’s work to be done yet. “We’re not looking ahead, we’re focused on our game with Nova Scotia,” he said. “But we’re happy with the way we’re playing right now.” Manitoba’s Rob Fowler kept his crew alive and well and in control of its destiny with a tidy 10-5 win over Jamie Koe’s Polars. It was a big win for Fowler in two ways. At 5-3, the Keystoners assure themselves they need no help but their own to play on the weekend. In addition, pulling the red-hot, turned ice-cold Territorial crew back to the pack (5-4) also helps their chances. “We’re definitely happy with the way we played,” said Fowler. “It was an important win for us and gives us momentum heading into tonight’s game.” Manitoba takes on Alberta’s Kevin Koe in that marquee match-up.(Continued Below…) Draw 13 Photos
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Yellowknife’s Koe, meanwhile, was left to wonder where the week’s early magic has gone. “That’s exactly how it feels,” he said, when asked if the touch has slipped away. “We have the night off; we’ll try to figure out what’s gone wrong and regroup for tomorrow.” The Polar skip says he likes his matchups Thursday against New Brunswick and B.C. The hometown Saskatchewan crew of Scott Manners continued to run into a flurry of bad luck, dropping a 9-8 decision to New Brunswicker Terry Odishaw. A couple of three-enders swamped Manners, who dropped to 2-7 and last in the field. Odishaw was left in a logjam of crews at five losses, hoping to win out and wedge into a tie-breaker of some sort. “I think we’re in full survival mode right now and we’re entertaining as usual, leaving some rocks in play,” Odishaw laughed. “But the approach is the same, it doesn’t change. Keep our fingers crossed and hope to make the shots.” The Loyalists have Brad Gushue’s Rock crew tonight, with both teams in must-win situation at 3-5. Nova Scotia’s playoff hopes took a late turn for the worst, meanwhile, when skip Jamie Murphy flashed a last-rock double which accounted for a 7-6 loss to Quebec’s Robert Desjardins. “We made it a little more exciting than it needed to be, eh?” Desjardins asked. Quebec put up a three-spot in the first end, but gave most of it back in the second and the game see-sawed from there. Up one with hammer in the last panel, Desjardins watched as Murphy sailed one through the rings which left the Quebec skip the luxury of disregarding his last brick. “The ice is pretty tricky there, I’m not sure if the shot was there, but what he was looking at, I would have tried the same shot,” said Desjardins. The loss left Murphy’s record at 4-4, but the bad news is he has Northern Ontario, Ontario and Alberta left on his schedule. For Desjardins, aka Curling Bob at 3-6? (Continued below…) httpvh:// “No matter how bad things go, we just remember, hey, we are at The Brier, that has to be good enough to bring a smile back to your face,” he said. He said he has a proposal for the Canadian Curling Association. “I am asking if there can be a fifth playoff spot added for the best record on TV’s feature game,” laughs Desjardins, a fan-favourite this week. “I’m undefeated. I’m waiting to hear back, but I don’t think it’s going to go.” The other game tonight freatures P.E.I. against B.C. (4-4).