After the opening day of the 2011 Brier in London, Ont. there were two big stories. First was the difficult ice conditions. Rain and warm temps in London caused humidity levels to soar inside the arena and the curlers were forced to contend with frost build-up on the ice.
The second biggest story is that the powerful Ontario rink skipped by Russ Howard (pictured foreground), which analysts have suggested are the only team with a hope in hell of derailing the Alberta juggernaut led by Kevin Martin, got upended by New Brunswick (skipped by James Gratton).
I saw a good chunk of the game this afternoon while visiting with my dad. It seemed that Ontario had them on the ropes all game, but New Brunswick kept pulling off key shots to escape trouble. It all came down to Howard’s last rock in the 10th. Up one with the hammer, and facing two New Brunswick counters, Howard had an open draw to the eight foot to win. Ordinarily, he’d be a lock to make it. But battling the frost, he came up short and gave up a steal of two to lose 5-4.
The marquee match-up tomorrow occurs during the fifth draw when Saskatchewan and Ontario clash. The Pat Simmons rink won their first game 6-4 over Northwest Terrorties/Yukon. I assume that’ll be the feature game on TSN (game time 7:30 p.m.).