When the 11th draw of the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier ended Wednesday night, only one rink ruled the standings with a 7-0 record – and it wasn't Brad Gushue's foursome from Newfoundland/Labrador.
While Gushue entered the evening having won seven games in succession, the 2006 Olympic champion was beaten by Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton 9-5 at Rexall Place. That defeat opened the door for Ontario's Glenn Howard, whose side drubbed New Brunswick 7-3.
The decision improved Ontario's record to 7-0, making it the only undefeated rink at the Brier and greatly improves Howard's chances of qualifying for the playoffs and perhaps defending the Brier title he won a year ago.
"That's the best thing," Howard said of his won-loss record. "That second number stays at zero. I can't say enough how well we're playing. The three guys ahead of me (Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing, Craig Savill) are making all the right shots at the right time.
"If we keep playing the way we are now, I like our chances."
Dating back to the 2012 Brier, Howard's rink has won 17 consecutive games.
Gushue had said earlier in the day the true test of his young rink would be its next four games against Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Manitoba scored four in the eighth end to end Newfoundland's unbeaten run.
"It's disappointing to lose," said Guhsue. It was nice to fight back and toe it up but it was pretty disappointing not to make enough shots."
Kevin Martin improved his chances of making the playoffs, which only days ago seemed remote at best. The Alberta skip, four-time Brier winner and 2010 Olympic champion beat Northwest Territories/Yukon 8-3 to lift his team's record to 3-4. That keeps Alberta in contention for fourth place, maybe higher.
"It was a good game. I said yesterday we just have to come out and win as many as we can," Martin explained. "If we win two (Thursday) then we can talk about what the chances are."