Saturday, March 07, 2009

Brier: Hot Shot champ, opening draw notes

by Dalene Heck

Brier newbie and YT/NWT lead Marty Gavin’s slingshot successfully brought down giants Kevin Martin and John Morris of Alberta, but stopped short of beating Ontario lead Craig Savill (fuzzy photo) in the final round for the Ford Hot Shots competition.

Gavin was up two points on Savill going into the final and most difficult shot, the double takeout. Savill made it perfectly, and when Gavin failed to remove the second stone, he handed Savill the win.

Savill drives away with a two-year lease on a 2009 Ford F150 XLT 4X4, valued at over $20,000. For second place Gavin receives $2,000 and Martin secured a third-place cheque worth $1,000. That should help cover their respective Patch bar tabs this week!

Opening Draw Notes

• Gavin went from slaying giants to posting a 69 per cent shooting percentage in YT/NWT’s opening game against PEI, placing him at the bottom of all leads. Although Marty and the rest of the team made many more shots in the evening draw, it was not enough to sneak a win from two-time Brier champion Jeff Stoughton.

Kevin Park, coming into the event, worried about being villainized for defecting from Alberta to Manitoba. He may not help his case if he continues to stand above the crowd with his shotmaking. K-Park ruled all thirds on the first day, posting a cumulative shooting percentage of 91 per cent, helping propel his team to the top of the standings with two solid wins.

• Concerns about attendance during these difficult economic times may be forgotten. Over 14,000 people were in the Saddledome to watch Saturday afternoon’s games, setting the Brier record for opening draw attendance. Is this Brier the “recession buster”?

• NL fans may not be the loudest in the Saddledome (that title is saved for the hometown crowd), but they definitely are the most enthusiastic thus far. Not sure if it made the telecast, but the crowd was treated to three mooseheads who observed some of the game with only their pants on. A loud “boo” arose from the crowd, however, when the fans were told by security to put their clothes back on! How lame is that?

• Did you see the story on Richard Hart? The Ontario third has a few things to say about popular opinion favouring Martin over his own Howard squad... and he even reveals that last year’s Brier ice crew has fessed up to “choking” on the ice conditions prior to that poor championship final. Wow! Here’s the story...

• Pros Pick ‘Em – well, our pros took a hit on the first day with none of them expecting a PEI win over YT/NWT. Let’s see how they fare on Sunday!

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