For the ninth time in his career, Glenn Howard has reached the final of the Tim Hortons Brier. Howard and his Ontario team of Richard Hard, Brent Laing and Craig Savill knocked off their provincial partners from Northern Ontario, led by Brad Jacobs, 8-6 in the 1-2 page playoff game last night to reach tomorrow's final.
It was Howard's 12 consecutive win this week and pushed him to within one game of his fourth Brier title.
"It's massive," said Howard of being back in the final. "We've had a lot of finals recently and you can't win unless you get to the final so it feels great to be back."
The win for Ontario was hard earned, especially after some astonishingly poor play by Howard himself early in the game. While his team played well in front of him, the veteran skip, known for being near perfect, struggled for much of the first half of the game, being scored at just 58 per cent.
After scoring two points in the second end, Howard uncharacteristically missed two shots in the third - over-curling on a raise takeout attempt and then ticking a guard while trying a double - to allow Jacobs to score three.
An end later, with Northern Ontario sitting three, Howard again stunned the crowd at the Metro Centre when he came short on a draw allowing Jacobs to steal one and take a 4-2 lead.
Howard's troubles continued in the fifth when he hit and rolled out on his last shot, turning what appeared to be a sure deuce into just a single.
But in the eighth end, the team from Coldwater Ont., rallied to grab three and take the lead 6-5.
"I thought we got them in trouble a lot and I kind of let them off a few times but we got a few breaks out of Brad and lo and behold we were tied up coming home," said Howard.
"It was an entertaining curling game and we were fortunate to come out with a win.
"It definitely feels like it slipped away a little bit," said Jacobs. "You can't help that maybe you're going to beat this guy if he's having an off day but we gave it right back to him."
It marked the first time the two provincial partners have met in the page playoffs and the first appearance for a Northern Ontario rink in post round-robin play since 1993.
Jacobs and his youthful Northern Ontario team from Sault Ste. Marie came into the game riding an eight-game win streak but weren't able to keep up with the veteran Ontario rink. They drop into tonight's semi-final match up against the winner of this afternoon's 3-4 contest between Kevin Koe of Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue.