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Howard’s rink is on fire, but he knows toughest opponents are coming

Glenn Howard is focused on how he finishes the week at the Brier, but he can’t complain about his start.

Glenn Howard is focused on how he finishes the week at the Brier, but he can’t complain about his start.

The Ontario skip is alone atop the leaderboard after three days of action at the Metro Centre, leading the field at the 81st edition of the event with a perfect 5-0 record.

Competing at the 12th Brier of his career, Howard thumped Nova Scotia’s winless Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc 9-3 last night and also took down New Brunswick’s James Grattan — featuring his nephew, Steven Howard — 7-4 in the afternoon.

“You can’t do much better,” Howard said.

“We’re getting stronger and stronger and more comfortable all the time.”

Hot starts are nothing new for Howard.

The 47-year-old started last year’s Brier 8-0 before falling in the semifinals to Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton.

Two years ago, he started 6-0 and eventually fell to Alberta’s Kevin Martin in the final.

But he has yet to face his toughest opponents.

“We usually lose to the really good teams and maybe come out flat against them, and they beat us,” Howard said.

“We have to be wary of that and make sure we have our better games against the better teams. It’s how you finish the week.”

Fitzner-LeBlanc, along with third Stuart MacLean, second Kent Smith and lead Philip Crowell, fell to 0-5, missing several open opportunities to keep things close with Howard.

“The reality is, we played two of the top 10 teams in the world,” said Fitzner-LeBlanc, a Halifax native who curls out of Mayflower.

“You need to bring your absolute best possible game to hang with them and we didn’t.”

Nova Scotia also lost to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue 10-3 in the morning draw.

Fitzner-LeBlanc, 25, is shooting 62 per cent, tied for last among skips.

“We came in trying to win every game we play and that focus won’t change,” he said.

“We’re enjoying ourselves, that won’t change, we’re enjoying the fan support … We just hope to be able to pick it up. We’re getting closer.”