Martin edges Koe to win 12th provincial title

A cross-country day of provincial finals has nearly completed the field for the 2013 Tim Horton’s Brier March 2-10 at Rexall Place in Edmonton. Seven finals were staged on Sunday to fill out a field that already included 2006 champion Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec (St-Romuald), Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories/Yukon (Yellowknife), James Grattan of New Brunswick (Oromocto) and Saskatchewan’s Brock Virtue (Regina).

A cross-country day of provincial finals has nearly completed the field for the 2013 Tim Horton’s Brier March 2-10 at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

Seven finals were staged on Sunday to fill out a field that already included 2006 champion Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec (St-Romuald), Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories/Yukon (Yellowknife), James Grattan of New Brunswick (Oromocto) and Saskatchewan’s Brock Virtue (Regina).

Red Deer native Chris Schille throws second strones for Virtue’s Saskatchewan champs.

The group that qualified on Sunday includes some of the biggest names in the sport.

The home team will be Edmonton’s Kevin Martin, who, along with his Saville Sports Centre foursome, won his record 12th Alberta championship by beating defending champion Kevin Koe of the Glencoe Club in Calgary 5-4 in an extra-end final at Leduc.

Martin will attempt to be the first player to skip five Brier champions; he currently shares the record of four with fellow Albertan Randy Ferbey and Saskatchewan’s Ernie Richardson.

He will also try to be the first player to skip Brier champions in three different decades.

Meanwhile, defending Brier and world champion Glenn Howard from the Coldwater and District Curling Club captured his eighth consecutive Ontario championship by beating Joe Frans’s team from the Bradford Curling Club 7-5. Howard will be bidding for his fifth Brier title in his 15th appearance, which breaks the record for most appearances at the Brier that he had shared with his brother Russ.

In Manitoba, two-time world champion Jeff Stoughton won his 10th trip to the Brier. Stoughton’s team from the Charleswood Club in Winnipeg beat Sean Grassie from the Deer Lodge Club, also in Winnipeg, 7-4 in the championship final in Neepawa. Stoughton will be taking aim at his fourth Brier championship.

And in the Newfoundland/Labrador Tankard at the St. John’s Curling Club, 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of the Bally Haly Curling Club in St. John’s capped an unbeaten run with an 8-2 win over Colin Thomas of the host club. It will be Gushue’s 10th trip to the Brier.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Brad Jacobs of the Soo Curlers Association in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., clinched his fourth consecutive Northern Ontario title. Jacobs, who’ll be participating in his seventh Brier (including once as an alternate), made an open hit for one in the 10th end to beat Robbie Gordon of Sudbury 6-5 in the final at Nipigon.

At Truro, Paul Flemming from the Lakeshore Curling Club in Lower Sackville qualified for his sixth Brier out of Nova Scotia. Flemming scored one in the 10th end for an 8-7 win over defending champ Jamie Murphy, also from the Lakeshore Club.

In Parksville, Andrew Bilesky of the Royal City club in New Westminster earned his first Brier Purple Heart, beating former Brier and world champion Brent Pierce, also of New Westminster, 7-4.

Weather issues have delayed the conclusion of the Prince Edward Island Tankard at Crapaud until Tuesday at the earliest.

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