Gap beginning to widen between top and bottom at Brier
There’s still three round-robin days left at the Tim Horton’s Brier, but a bit of separation is starting to happen.
At the end of Tuesday’s draw, there were only four teams left with one loss or less.
After taking his fourth loss, Kevin Martin, of Team Alberta, now needs a miracle of biblical proportions to get back in the picture.
Brad Gushue, of Newfoundland, continued to take advantage of his soft opening schedule and finished his day at 6-0.
Gushue had squeaked out a couple of back-to-back extra-end wins, but rediscovered his groove in a 6-3 win over winless B.C.
“It was more like we’d played in the first three (blowout) games,” said Gushue, who earned himself some breathing room. “We didn’t really make any big mistakes and felt we were in control throughout.
“You have to come into this point with no worse than one loss and, worst case, two. To be 6-0 at this point, I don’t want to say we can afford a couple of losses, but if they do happen, it’s not the end of the world.”
Ontario’s Glenn Howard has also gone through his opposition with surgical efficiency and is also 6-0 after knocking down Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario to 4-2.
Howard gained a measure of revenge in his 7-4 afternoon win over Jamie Koe of the Territories, the only team to beat him in the 2012 Brier.
“We were fortunate to pull that one off,” said Howard. “Any time you play a Koe, it’s tough.”
Howard didn’t even have to breathe hard in his 8-2 win over Jacobs.
“As long as you can leave that zero a zero (in the loss column) ... if it goes right through, that’s even better,” said Howard. “First goal is to make the playoffs, second goal is to get to the 1-2 game. We’re getting closer.”
Pre-event co-favourite Jeff Stoughton also continued to roll and is tied with Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard at 5-1.
“Pretty good so far,” said Stoughton. “There’s obviously room for improvement. I think we’re all getting more comfortable with the ice and more confident about where to put the broom.”
Stoughton’s next big test is Wednesday night’s matchup against Gushue. There’s more at stake in that game than the fact Gushue beat Stoughton in the final of the 2006 Olympic trials.
“I think it’ll mean just a bit more because Mark (lead Nichols) is on the team,” said Stoughton about Gushue’s former third. “He wants to win that game as much as Brad wants to win the game. And we want to win that game as much as anybody else. It’ll be a special game because they’re going head-to-head at the Brier.”
Koe and James Grattan of New Brunswick finished their day at 3-3, two losses back of a playoff spot.