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Ontario skip Glenn Howard delivers a stone during play against Alberta at the Brier curling championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 11, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best (SHAUN BEST)
Ontario skip Glenn Howard delivers a stone during play against Alberta at the Brier curling championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 11, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best (SHAUN BEST)

The Brier

Howard one win from glory Add to ...

He is one win away from perfection, one away from joining the legendary Richardsons and one win away from at least partly erasing some bad memories.

But Glenn Howard knows better than anyone that he's also one loss away from a long summer of answering questions.

Howard and his Ontario team of Richard Hart, Brent Laing and Craig Savill head to their fourth Tim Hortons Brier final in the last four years Sunday at the Metro Centre. For the skip, it's his ninth trip to the ultimate game. While he's won three of them (a fourth victory would tie him with the legendary Richardson family of Saskatchewan for second in overall Brier titles), he's also lost five and that's a number he'd rather not see increase.

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"It's an incredible stat," stated Howard. "Nine out of 12 is unbelievable but my winning record is not the best. The percentage of wins is not good and that's upsetting because coming second is not fun. If we happen to lose [Sunday]night I won't be very happy."

A Howard loss would be his first not only at this year's championship but also through the entire playdown run. The rink that plays out of the Coldwater, Ont., Curling Club ran the table at the Ontario finals in February, taking 12 straight games.

That stretch was a bit of salve for a team that lost one of the biggest games of its career in December when it was defeated in the Olympic Trials final by eventual gold medalist Kevin Martin.

"Personally I won't be over that for a year but that being said, I really don't think that affects us here," said Howard. "Am I happy about it? No. Am I disappointed? Absolutely. But I don't think about the Trials at any point this week."

Hart knows all about those tough losses, too, having fallen in the gold medal game at the 1998 Olympics, while playing with Mike Harris. He knows there's nothing you can do about those but move on.

"It was just one of those disappointing games, I've got lots of them," he reflected. "I've got one from '98 and I've got four provincial final losses that are disappointing and never go away but you're always on to the next thing."

In fact, rather than wallow in self-pity, the team decided to use the tough Trials' loss as incentive for its Brier run. Second Brent Laing told his teammates that coming of the tough loss at the Trials, they should commit to a new goal of going undefeated at the Ontario playdowns. That worked and so Howard upped the ante by establishing a team goal of a perfect week at the Brier.

And that's what they've managed to do, positioning themselves one win away from having their names engraved on the Tankard yet again.

To get that victory, however, they'll need to get past a tough Alberta squad skipped by Kevin Koe. That's a squad, however, that Howard has played well in the past.

"We have a really good record against them," said Hart.

"That's good for us and bad for them. Hopefully they remember that we've beaten them a lot and they don't like that and haven't figured out how to beat us yet and hopefully they don't figure it out [in the final]"

 

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