Howard, Carruthers open Brier campaigns with 7-5 wins

 REGINA — Howard fists pumped in triumph on the ice and on the bench at the Canadian men’s curling championship Saturday when Ontario’s Scott Howard threw a walk-off double takeout for the first Brier win of his career as a skip.

The son of four-time Canadian and world champion Glenn — who is coaching Scott’s foursome in Regina — skimmed a guard and made the double to score three for a 7-5 win over B.C.’s Catlin Schneider.

Scott was under pressure with just 18 seconds remaining on Ontario’s time clock when he delivered his last stone.

“You want to have the rock in your hand in the 10th end and I knew the shot was there and we were running out of time,” Scott said. “I’ve always wanted to skip in a Brier and this is the time that’s come true.”

The 33-year-old played third for his father twice in five previous appearances at the Brier. Glenn was skipping Scott’s team until a knee injury forced him out of the lineup in December.

Scott, David Mathers and Tim March won Ontario men’s provincials as a three-man team before adding Mat Camm at second for the Montana’s Brier in Regina.

Glenn’s fist flew into the air at the same time as his son’s Saturday.

“That’s what the Brier’s all about. That’s what curling is all about,” said Glenn, 61.

“As soon as my knee went out in early December, the three of them raised their game exponentially. Scott took the helm as skip and he owns that position right now. I was just so proud of him to be able to come out and do that. You can see he’s comfortable out there. He doesn’t mind throwing the last shot.”

In Saturday afternoon’s other Pool A openers, Reid Carruthers beat Matt Dunstone 7-5 in an all-Manitoba matchup, Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher earned an 11-3 win over Andrew Symonds of Newfoundland and Labrador and Northern Ontario’s Trevor Bonot defeated New Brunswick’s James Grattan 9-4.

Pool B play continued Saturday evening. Defending champion Brad Gushue, Saskatchewan’s Mike McEwen, Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories and Alberta’s Aaron Sluchinski entered play at 1-0.

Alberta’s Kevin Koe, Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith, Nova Scotia’s Matt Manuel and Quebec’s Julien Tremblay all started 0-1.

The top three teams in each pool of nine advance to a six-team playoff round, from which the four Page playoff teams will emerge.

The winner March 10 represents Canada at the world championship March 30 to April 7 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and returns to the 2025 Brier in Kelowna, B.C. as defending champion.

The victor also earns a berth in next year’s Olympic trials pending a top-six result at the world championship.

While the Howard name is prominent in Canadian curling circles, Scott acknowledged his team may be somewhat of an unknown in Regina given the late lineup shuffle this season.

“I’m sure a lot of people think we’re a mystery team with Mat coming on,” Scott said. “Skipping is not my regular position, but we’ve been doing some damage on the tour.

“I’ve been lucky to come to a few Briers now. I feel confident. It’s always a learning curve skipping that national event. To get that first win at the Brier means so much because it’s a tough field and every win is so important here. We were leaking a bit of oil in the last couple ends, but to get that three in the last end was very crucial for us.”

Glenn coached Jennifer Jones to the final of the recent Canadian women’s championship. Jones plans to retire from team curling at the end of the season.

Watching his son pull out a dramatic win in his Brier debut as a skip carries extra emotional weight for dad.

“You don’t want him to miss a bad shot. It hits the heart a little deeper. By the same token, when he makes a shot like that, it hits the heart that much deeper,” Glenn said.

“You’re a little more invested when you have your son on the team, but it’s a super-proud moment for all four of those guys.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2024.

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