And just like that, Glenn Howard’s splendid Brier went to pieces.
First it was a Friday loss to Alberta in the final game of round-robin play. Then it was a risky call and a poor shot that cost him Saturday’s 1-2 playoff game. Finally, it was a disappointing defeat in Sunday’s semi-final at Rexall Place that assured Howard and his rink would not win back-to-back Canadian men’s curling championships.
In a game he had to win to earn his way into Sunday night’s final against Manitoba, Howard couldn’t hold a pair of leads (2-0, 4-2) and lost 9-7 to Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario.
Jacobs battled back then stole two in the fifth end to go ahead 6-4. In the sixth, Howard had a shot at three but managed only a single point. That gave Northern Ontario the hammer for the seventh where Jacobs used it to score another deuce.
Jacobs stole another point in the eighth to put a stranglehold on the game. That made the final a Northern Ontario versus Manitoba affair, with Howard playing Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador in Sunday afternoon’s bronze medal game, a sour consolation.
For Jacobs, it’s been a short but whirlwind career as a Brier skip. The 27-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie took his rink to the bronze medal at the 2010 Brier. Last year, Jacobs finished 5-6 and missed the playoffs altogether.
The last time a Northern Ontario rink won the Brier was in 1985 when Thunder Bay’s Al Hackner beat Alberta’s Pat Ryan.
Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton is looking for his fourth Brier title as a skip and a continuation of a personal trend. In his three previous championship wins, Stoughton had played in the 1-2 playoff game, won it then captured the Tankard.
“I don’t know why (that happened),” Stoughton said the other day after beating Ontario in the 1-2 game. “I’m just trying to digest this win.”