Posted at 12:21 pm on March 9, 2013
The playoffs for the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier are set and ready to go. Something seems a little bit different this year, as for the first time in thirteen years, Team Alberta was unable to qualify for the playoffs. The final four teams battling for the title are Team Ontario, Team Manitoba, Team Newfoundland, and Team Northern Ontario.
It was an incredible Brier for defending champion Glenn Howard and his Ontario team. They almost ran the table, winning their first 10 games. In their final match of the round robin, they came up against a determined Kevin Martin who was laying it all on the table it a last attempt to earn a playoff berth. The Old Bear and his Alberta team got off to a terrible start, going 1-4 over their first five games. But they were perfect ever since, and on the last day of round robin competition they beat Team Ontario but still needed a little help from the teams above them. With a 7-4 record, Martin needed either Manitoba or Northern Ontario to lose a game, dropping them back and causing a tie-break situation.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Jeff Stoughton found himself in a tough game against British Columbia, but the veteran Manitoba skip wasn’t bothered. He inched his way ahead in the final end to win the game an secure his ticket to the 1 vs. 2 Page Playoff game.
Northern Ontario also wasn’t giving any gifts to Alberta. They steam rolled their way past Nova Scotia’s Paul Flemming. This win officially eliminated Kevin Martin from playoff contention, and sent Norther Ontario, skipped by Brad Jacobs, to the playoffs.
Newfoundland & Labrador stumbled their way into the playoffs as well. After a remarkable 7-0 run to start the week, Brad Gushue‘s crew ran into a string of tough opponents. They came up against Jeff Stoughton, Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, and Jean-Michel Menard all in a row. The Newfoundland finishing schedule was so grueling that it caused some to accuse the CCA of intentionally setting up the young team for disaster.
“What a dramatic story that would be,” a Brier official said, who wished to remain anonymous. “Give these kids the easy teams to start off, let them think they’ll make the playoffs, and then snatch it away last minute by piling on all the big guys at the end.”
Conspiracy or not, Gushue’s crew weathered the storm and are bound for the playoffs. They’ll be taking on Brad Jacob’s in the 3 vs. 4 page playoff game.