Ontario, Alberta tied for Brier top spot at 6-1

SASKATOON — Glenn Howard worked overtime to establish yet another record at the Brier.

SASKATOON — Glenn Howard worked overtime to establish yet another record at the Brier.

Ontario’s 7-5 win in an extra end over Saskatchewan on Tuesday marked 175 career games at the Brier for Howard, surpassing the previous record set by his older brother Russ.

It was also Ontario’s fifth extra-end game at this year’s Tim Hortons Brier, so if rounded up . . .

“What is that. Is that 176 now?” Glenn Howard asked jokingly.

“I can’t quite believe it’s 175 games. That’s a lot of curling. The good news is at least over 50 per cent were wins. It’s pretty neat to say you’ve played more Brier games than anyone in history.”

Glenn joined his brother Russ with most Brier appearances at 14 when his team qualified out of Ontario again this year.

“I wish my father was around to see it,” Glenn said. “My mother is alive and at home watching it. I think it’s a pretty proud moment for her that her boys have played the most games in history.”

Glenn has won three Canadian championships, once as skip in 2007 and two others playing third for Russ in 1987 and 1993. Glenn has also skipped Ontario in five finals over the last six years.

The 49-year-old says the games record and tying his Russ for most tournament appearances feels special because his son Scott Howard is with him this year as an alternate player for Ontario.

Glenn’s first Canadian championship was in 1986 in Kitchener, Ont., at the age of 23.

“It does seem like it was a heck of a long time ago,” Glenn marvelled. “I’m probably a little bit heavier, not a lot heavier, and had a lot more hair and a moustache. OK, I had some hair and a moustache.”

The beer-store owner from Tiny, Ont., which is on the outskirts of Penetanguishene, said he’s as excited by the competition and the atmosphere at the Canadian men’s curling championship as he was 26 years ago.

“You get pumped because it’s exciting stuff and even at 49 years old, I love this,” he said. “I love to be out and performing and this crowd is fantastic.”

Pre-tournament favourites Ontario and Alberta’s Kevin Koe were tied atop the standings at 6-1 heading into Wednesday.

Yukon and Northwest Territories, skipped by Kevin’s brother Jamie, was alone at 5-2. The Koe brothers meet Wednesday morning in an important game for both teams in the standings

Ontario’s 8-4 win over Manitoba at night — Howard’s 176th game — was mercifully shorter for his team as Rob Fowler gave up a steal of three in the fifth and shook hands in the ninth.

Alberta’s Koe lost their first game of the tournament, falling 7-6 to Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs. Prior to that game, Alberta had beaten every team by three points or more.

“We didn’t play well, me personally especially,” Kevin Koe said. “That was my worst game. They’re a good team. That’s what happens.”

The top four teams advance to playoffs at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday. Ties for fourth will be solved by tiebreaker games.

Manitoba’s Rob Fowler, B.C.’s Jim Cotter and Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy were all 4-3 ahead of Northern Ontario at 3-4.

Saskatchewan’s Scott Manners, New Brunswick’s Terry Odishaw, Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec’s Robert Desjardins and Mike Gaudet of Prince Edward Island were tied at 2-5.

The 2012 Brier has been a difficult one for Gushue, who skipped Canada to its first Olympic gold medal in men’s curling in 2006. Gushue was a Brier finalist in 2007 and was third last year in London, Ont.

“Maybe we had little bit too high expectations,” Gushue said. “Maybe we thought we were further along than what we were.

“Having been here and been in contention the last seven years, it’s very difficult to take and come here and have a team that’s essentially rebuilding.

“Maybe it was my own confidence, cockiness, stupidity, being an idiot to come here and expect to do as well as we have in the past, I don’t know. Maybe I was right in thinking that and we just had a bad week.”

The Territories lost 9-6 to P.E.I., Quebec beat New Brunswick 8-3 and Nova Scotia defeated Saskatchewan 10-7 on Tuesday night.