Sunday, February 10, 2008

Corner - Howard for the Brier

The Ontario Championship final will start soon - Glenn Howard's rink, so far 1-1 during the round-robin and the earing a Page playoffs, are facing one another. Many years ago, Corner was a member of Howard's team. There was some behavior yesterday bearing a mild resemblance to sportsmanship.

Both skips deliver their rocks with a fierce concentration. Corner is in his 11th final (I had no idea).

Again we will have Ed Werenich proving commentary. Ed will never be used by any of the major networks, but I find what he has to say very useful; he has a great sense of humour and great respect for good play. This local Rogers Cable coverage has been just excellent.

I'll try to give individuals their due some more. but I do not normally start reporting until the thirds are throwing. Howard's team has as lead Craig Savill, second Brent Laing, third Richard Hart, and skip Glenn Howard. Corner's is lead Paul Moffatt, second Phil Loevenmark, third John Base, and skip Peter Corner.

The rinks are being piped onto the ice surface, Werenich commenting he still finds the piping moving. (I know I did watching the Scott Tournament of Hearts a couple of years ago live.)

Howard has the hammer in the first end.

End 1 : Moffatt puts the first rock into the house on the button. Savill puts up a corner guard. Moffatt's second stone ends up on the centreline just in front of the house. Savill's shot ends up in the back of the 12-foot on the centre. (Not likely what was planned but Werenich notes it is in play.) Loevenmark puts a rock between the Corner rocks up front, a little off centre. Laing clears the front Corner rock, jamming on another, so Corner has rocks on the button and at 2 o'clock in the four-foot. Loevenmark puts a second Corner rock on the button, coming in deeper than planned. Laing runs back the front Howard rock, removes one Corner rock from the button, and slides over to 11 o'clock. Base punches out the Howard rock perfectly and sits just behind the button. Hart runs one front rock back and just removes one Corner rock - now one on the button, one at 2 o'clock. Base puts a rock in the front of the house on the centreline in the twelve-foot. Hart removes two COrner rocks, leaving the one on the button, and staying in front on the twelve-foot on the centreline. As Werenich now observes, there is trouble because Base's guard came in too far, and because of the earlier rock thought of as a miss by Savill. Corner wrecks on the front Howard rock, and sits beside it. Howard runs it back and removes the rock on the button but Corner's other rock stays in the four-foot. Corner wrecks again - mixed sweeping early to mixed calls, followed by a curl into trouble; Howard hits and sticks for 4.

OK gang - I am not going to follow with the same detail now. This one looks over, but I will keep looking in.

Werenich comments that this is unfortunate - the results of one small mistake (I count three above :-) ) can be brutal.

End 2: With last skip rocks left, Howard has the shot rock, just beside a Corner rock.Corner freezes to his own rock, almost (small gap.) Meanwhile Werenich recalls two major matches where he was down four early. There is also interesting discussion of the Corner front-end's habit of talking as Corner releases. Howard's shot slightly overcurls, leaving Corner a good shot at scoring 2. And Corner does!

Howard 4 - Corner 2 I don;t think this end will be blanked - seven rocks in the house with Hart's last rock to come. He chips a Corner rock out of the four-foot, leaving two Howard rocks there as shot rocks. The Base-Corner discussions are fun - "Nevermind, let's just make it," from Base. Corner does not quite clean up as much as hoped, but now Howard has only one shot rock, just off the four-foot, with some Corner rocks in front. Howard puts a rock into the four-foot but it curls less than hoped - Corner could double those rocks out and he could lie 2. Beautifully done - Corner now forcing Howard to hit and stick for 1. As he does.

Howard 5 - Corner 2.

Corner is chipping away at the ill effects of the first end.

End 4: Corner tries to peel the front of a pair of Howard rocks frozen to one another, instead removes his own rock behind them and the shooter so Howard lies 2 in the four-foot. Howard puts up a guard in the 12-foot to protect those rocks. Corner's rock looks for a bit as if it might be heavy but he hits the back button for 1.

Howard 5 - Corner 3.

End 5: Werenich jokes that it is not fair that Howard's rinks has left-hander Hart and right-hander Howard able to make so many similar great shots. He also jokes that the ice in Waterloo is too good, compared to what he recalls. Base-Corner - "We could just take a half-assed approach and go here." A Base draw attempt gets through the port but ends up in the back of the house. Hart's shot removes the last front Corner rock - three Howard rocks in the front of the house, two of them counting. Corner, 'awesomely', puts a rock in the four foot behind Howard rocks. Howard clears both remaining Corner rocks - Corner is in BIG trouble. Werenich continues to say that the Howard rink is doing 'unfair' things. :-) There are 4 Howard rocks in hte house, no Corner rocks but for a centre guard out front. Corner rock is second shot, maybe, but it is pretty open to Howard now. This is about to get really ugly. Werenich says they got the broom wrong by maybe a foot and a half and it was close (and desperate). Howard is contemplating an attack on the Corner rock. He chips it out - 4 for Howard.

Howard 9 - Corner 3.

Werenich really makes me laugh as Corner's team take a timeout. "I'm just so thankful the coaches don't come running out of the stands and make a fool of themselves just standing around watching the team talking."

Werenich could be the David Feherty of curling coverage if we had a major broadcaster with any courage.

The fifth end break is fun. First we are pointed to this amusing video on the Six Degrees of Glenn Howard.

Next we have some banter between Werenich and Marilyn Bodogh (the Dottie Mochrie of curling coverage?) including some wonderful shots of Marilyn playing in her heyday, with her team dressed so wonderfully, kilts, nice leggings, and, back in those days, fairly big hair.

End 6: Corner takes 1.

End 7: Howard gets 2, Corner concedes. I wish it had been more exciting.

I want to say again that I thought the Rogers crew were excellent - heaven knows some of our larger broadcasters have done some subtantially less impressive work.

Ed Werenich is not a public speaker, and does not sound smooth, but he is a joy to listen to, and he knows this sport well, and communicates his knowledge superbly. I would like to hear a lot more of him!

Marilyn Bodogh is not quite yet fully at ease, but she does a pretty good job of the interviews, and family background and the like.

It is always a bit frustrating to see a fine team like this assembled, knowing that this is the last time I will see them at least for a year.


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