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This article was published 14/3/2009 (4331 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

CALGARY -- Round 1 went to Kevin Martin on Thursday night.

Round 2 to Martin, again, 24 hours later.

Alberta skip Kevin Martin (right) and Ontario skip Glenn Howard during their Brier showdown in Calgary. Martin won the game.

NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta skip Kevin Martin (right) and Ontario skip Glenn Howard during their Brier showdown in Calgary. Martin won the game.

But here's the glorious thing about the Tim Hortons Brier: there still re­mains a possibility, and a good one at that, that his beaten opponent both nights, Ontario's Glenn Howard, can still pick himself up off the canvas to take another shot at the reigning Brier and world champion.

Oh, sure, Howard, a 7-6 extra-end loser to Alberta in the Page playoff one­versus- two game on Friday, will have to prevail in tonight's semifinal against the winner of the morning's three­versus- four clash between Newfound­land's Brad Gushue and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton.

But with all due respect to Gushue and Stoughton, you can rest assured that an entire country of curling fans is clamouring for a third and decisive round in Sunday night's championship final.

"It's so much fun playing against Glenn; we really try hard, but it's all fun," said Martin, moments after mak­ing a crowd-pleasing draw to bite the button looking at two Ontario counters to win in the extra end. "And this game, I told the guys after we were done, we're not going to win every one like that, but enjoy them."

Over two straight nights, the two dominant curling teams on the planet have given 12,000 fans 21 ends of sim­ply superb curling; Friday night's play­off game, like the round-robin finale 24 hours earlier, straight true to the script with neither team breaking loose of its rival.

In the end, though, it was Alberta --winners of a record 25 straight games in Brier competition -- who got it done when it truly counted.

A bizarre 10th featured Howard's agonizing miss on his first shot, which bore an eerie resemblance to one his brother Russ had against him in round­robin play (a raised frock somehow squirting between opposition stones in the four-foot; Russ shattered his broom after the miss; Glenn merely tossed his in the air) resulted in having to cold­draw the four-foot looking at five Al­berta counters.

And in the 11th, despite having an open hit for the win, Martin chose to draw the lid, and, thanks to some bril­liant sweeping from second Marc Ken­nedy and lead Ben Hebert, made it for the win despite looking for the longest time like it would crash on a short guard.

"I thought Kevin got the breaks that game," said Howard, in a rare show of mild frustration. "He got a few key rubs and a few key shots. But it was a fan­tastic game and the shot-making was exceptional. It was just as much fun, but it gets frustrating when you get a few bad breaks against you, especially mine in the 10th end. But obviously it was meant to be. Bottom line is we have to win two more now."

And, if you ask Howard, Friday's ef­fort should have been good enough to win.

"Absolutely. Are you kidding me? You saw it," said an emphatic Howard, who lost to Martin in last year's final. "By far. I thought we outplayed them.

"The bottom line is, we've got to get there (to the final). We have a huge game (Saturday night) against Jeff or Brad. Kevin Martin is a distant thought right now."

The fascinating contrast between these teams, and their skips, was nev­er more evident than in a beautifully played fourth end.

-- Canwest News Service