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Roar of the Rings

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Undefeated, but unfulfilled

Jacobs' 7-0 run not yet meaningful

Posted: 12/7/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Results provided by: Canadian Curling Association
For full scoring information, go to the Canadian Curling Association Site.

Not Brad Gushue. Not Mike Harris. Not Kelley Law or Cheryl Bernard or Shannon Kleibrink. Not even Kevin Martin or Sandra Schmirler.

No, not until Sault Ste. Marie's Brad Jacobs did it Friday morning at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings at the MTS Centre has a team gone through the round robin undefeated at a Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.

With a 7-4 win over Toronto's John Epping, Jacobs and his team -- Winnipeg's Ryan Fry at third, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden -- finished the round robin a perfect 7-0 and now advance directly to Sunday's men's final, where a trip to Sochi to represent Canada at the Winter Olympics in February will be on the line.

But with so much still on the line for his team in an event where there really is no second place, Jacobs was decidedly low key when he was informed he'd made trials history with his unblemished round-robin record.

"Cool," said Jacobs. "But really, the only game that matters now is Sunday's game. So that's what we're looking forward to."

What remains to be determined, however, is the identity of Jacobs' opponent on Sunday. With a 7-6 extra-end win over Calgary's John Morris on the final round-robin draw Friday morning, two-time Olympian Kevin Martin of Edmonton finished 6-1 and alone in second place, while Morris finished at 4-3 and alone in third.

That set up a semifinal rematch between the two teams at 1:30 p.m. today in a game dripping with all kinds of backstory -- Morris won a gold medal with Martin in Vancouver in 2010 and was his longtime third until abruptly quitting the team last spring.

But against long odds, Morris formed a new team this season with former B.C. champion Jim Cotter, qualified for the trials in a last-chance bonspiel and now suddenly finds himself once again on the ice with Martin, only this time at cross-purposes.

Cool, said Morris. "I think if you'd (told) us at the start of the year that you have to beat Brad Jacobs and Kevin Martin to win the trials, we'd have been pretty happy with that. Especially not having a berth here.

"We're in good position. We'll have for sure a good set of rocks because we get to choose from the four sheets. We've just got to keep battling like we've been playing. We're playing pretty good. And if we can pick it up even a half-notch, we can win this thing."

All of which was pretty much the same assessment Martin offered. "We just have to throw high numbers. And I'd say we actually have to play just a little better than we did today as a team. We were a little bit sloppy on a couple of ends and they might snap us for three or four (today) if we allow that."

A win over Morris today would send Martin to a trials final he won the last two times he played in it, in 2001 and 2009. The difference this time, however, is he would be facing a team in Jacobs' that has yet to lose this week.

Asked what it will take to beat Jacobs, Martin noted his team already almost beat Jacobs when the two teams faced each other Thursday night in a game Jacobs won on last rock. "You just have to play high-percentage," said Martin. "That's really the answer around here."

Not really. While it's true Martin led the field in team shooting percentage during the round robin at 89 and the Jacobs team was third at 87, Glenn Howard's squad finished 2-5 and out of the playoffs despite shooting a blistering 88 per cent during the week.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2013 C6

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