WINDSOR, Ontario – The minnows broke out and scored huge victories early Friday afternoon to throw the Grey Power World Cup of Curling playoff picture into disarray heading into the final two round robin draws.
Vancouver 2010 Olympic champion Kevin Martin missed a tricky double-runback for two points and the win on the final shot of his match against Swedish Olympic fourth-place finisher Niklas Edin. The 7-4 loss dropped the Edmonton team’s tournament record to 3-1 while Edin saw his won/loss record climb to 2-2.
“This was our first win, even the first close game, against Martin, in about three or four games,” said Edin, who lost the Olympic semifinal to Martin and then the bronze-medal match to Switzerland last February.
“To be honest we tried something very different this time, just to keep things really, really simple,” said Edin. “The last few times we’ve tried to play their game and it hasn’t worked. We tried to figure something out to get a close game, and get it to the finish line this time, and it worked.
“We tried to play kind of like, the wrong shot at some points. We wouldn’t play a game like this against any other team but Martin, I can honestly say that. Maybe next time we might not try the exact same tactics, but this time to get a first win, we had to do something.”
Martin, nicknamed the “Old Bear” years ago by now-current teammate John Morris, stomped off the ice after the match and left his protegé to deal with the media.
“We were struggling with the ice there a little bit,” said Morris. “It wasn’t our best game, that’s for sure. Kevin must have played about 70 per cent… and 70 is not going to win you many wins, unless you’re playing in the Friday night mixed league.”
Martin faces Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. in the night draw (8:30pm ET) and is guaranteed a tiebreaker berth with a loss. A victory would take his foursome straight into Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
Not so for four-time defending champion Glenn Howard. The Ontario squad lost their second straight match by an 11-4 score to Rob Fowler of Brandon, Man. and fell to 2-2. They need a win in the night draw over Edmonton’s Ted Appelman to make the playoffs.
Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton defeated world champion Kevin Koe from Edmonton 6-5 to become the first team to qualify for the quarterfinals at 4-0. Martin shares his 3-1 record with Fowler, 2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue (St. John’s, NL), Norway’s 2010 Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud and Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
“It’s wide open now,” said Morris. “Every team in our pool has a loss, so it’s gonna be a bit of a gong show in tonight’s draw to see where everything shakes out.”
In late afternoon draw action, Edin faced off against Scotland’s struggling David Murdoch (0-4) while Gushue tangled with Koe (2-2) and McEwen wrapped up his round robin versus Pat Simmons (2-2) of Davidson, Sask.
Ulsrud, who faces Fowler in the night draw, reacted with a smile when reminded that Edin’s team was only formed 18 months before the Vancouver Olympics, and was originally targetting the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to make an impact.
“I think they’re full of sh*t,” said Ulsrud. “I picked those guys second behind Canada (Martin) going into Vancouver as the teams to watch out for.
“They’re also the defending European champions, so as a European team it’s always great to see them doing well here in Canada.”
“We always play international teams tough, and it’s a hit to the pride when you lose,” said Morris. “So we’ll be gunning for those guys (Edin) next time, that’s for sure.”
To follow live scoring from the eighth draw (5:00pm ET) and ninth draw (8:30pm ET) please follow: grandslamofcurling.com