Martin, Howard advance to National final - Metro US

Martin, Howard advance to National final

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin will renew their rivalry in the final of the Pomeroy Inn & Suites National, the third Capital One Grand Slam of Curling event of the season.

Both veteran curlers capped a perfect preliminary round with semifinal wins on Saturday. Martin’s Edmonton rink edged Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 4-3, while Howard, from Coldwater, Ont., cruised past Jim Cotter of Vernon, B.C., 8-3.

“We’re playing Glenn again — it will be a fun battle as it always is,” said Martin, who will have first hammer in the game. “There will be a ton of rocks in play. The first rock will be a guard and then away we go. Who knows who will win?”

In a battle of Olympic champions, Gushue scored two in the seventh end to tie the semifinal at 3-3, but Martin scored one in the eighth and final end to advance.

Howard had an easier time, scoring one and stealing two to take a 3-0 lead after two ends. Cotter scored two in the sixth end to cut the lead to 6-3, but Howard scored two in the seventh and decisive end to reach his second Grand Slam final of the season.

“I’m feeling really positive right now,” Howard said. “The guys are making a ton of shots in front of me and I’ve been playing pretty well. We couldn’t ask for any better sitting at 7-0 and hopefully we can bring our ‘A’ game against Mr. Kevin Martin.”

In the quarter-finals earlier Saturday, Martin beat Sweden’s Niklas Edin 4-1, Howard beat Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton 8-3, Cotter downed Edmonton’s Kevin Koe 5-3 and Gushue edged Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud 4-3.

Martin is the most dominant skip in Grand Slam history with 17 titles, including four Nationals. An 18th title here would tie golfing legend Jack Nicklaus for the most major championships in any sport.

Howard has nine Grand Slam titles, including a win at the 2011 World Cup of Curling in November.

The two have faced each other in four Grand Slam finals, with the series spilt at two wins apiece. Outside the Grand Slam Martin has the edge, beating Howard in the final 2008 Tim Hortons Brier and the final of the 2009 Canadian Olympic curling trials.

The winner of Sunday’s final will get a $20,000 share of the $100,000 purse. The runner-up will take home $11,000.

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