Kennedy shoots for Brier
St. Albert Curling Club product aims for fifth Brier appearance with Kevin Martin rink
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 09, 2013 06:00 am
Leduc – Rocking the Brier in Edmonton would be a dream come true for Marc Kennedy.
The southpaw second of St. Albert is anxious to experience the holy grail of Canadian curling as the host team with the Kevin Martin rink at the March 2 to 10 event at Rexall Place.
“We played the Olympic trials there but none of us have played in a Brier in Edmonton before and the Briers there in the past have been so successful and so good,” said Kennedy, a three-time Alberta champion, two-time Brier winner and 2008 world gold medallist with teammates Martin, John Morris and Ben Hebert.
Last year the 2010 Olympic champions failed to make the provincial final and haven’t curled in the Brier since their fourth trip to the show in 2011.
“We would love to get back. We missed it so much last year. It’s hard to sit at home and watch it so we’re going to do everything we can to try and get there but it’s so hard to come out of Alberta,” said Kennedy, a Brier first team all-star in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011. “I would love to be a part of a few more Briers, you just never know when you’re going to get back though.”
Thursday night the Martin foursome qualified for the Page playoffs at the Boston Pizza Cup provincials as the A-event qualifier with a 6-5 decision against 2012 champion Kevin Koe at the Leduc Recreation Centre.
Steals of one in seven and eight by Martin put the Saville Sports Centre rink up by two before Koe replied with a deuce in nine to tie it at five. Martin scored the game winner with the hammer in the 10th end.
It’s the third straight year Martin and Koe hooked up in the A qualifier. The A winner in the triple-knockout competition has gone on to win provincials through the Page playoff system that was introduced in 2008.
Koe, the 2010 Brier and world champion and 2012 Brier runner-up, had more wins than losses against Martin in recent matchups before Thursday’s showdown.
“They’re a real tough team to beat,” said Kennedy, who curled with Koe on the Morris rink before hooking up with Martin in the 2006/07 season. “They have different personalities than us and a different emotion level but they’re so talented. The difference now than in the past is that they have so much more experience now. There are a few teams like them in the world now that have that extra level of elite play.”
Tonight at 6:30 p.m. the four playoff qualifiers square off. A win by Martin in the 1-2 game would clinch a spot in Sunday’s final at 2 p.m. A loss would drop Martin into Sunday’s semifinal at 9:30 a.m.
Visit www.2013bostonpizzacup.com for playoff pairings and results.
“It’s just a matter of getting a feel for the ice and saving our best games for the end of the week here,” said Kennedy, 31.
The Paul Kane High School alumnus is pumped about curling in the umpteenth provincials in his illustrious career.
“Getting on a national stage at any level is great so provincials is stressful but a lot of fun too,” said the three-time U20 Alberta champion. “Alberta has so much depth and the teams are so good and anyone can beat you. It's great curling out here and I get amped up for them every year because you know how great the Brier is and how much fun it is.
“There are so many big events every year and I really want to be a part of every one of them – all the Slams, the Brier, the provincials – because they’re so much fun and they bring up emotions that you can’t get doing anything else.”
Koe, Martin and the dangerous Jamie King rink of St. Albert are ranked one-two-three in the 12-team draw.
Martin avoided the playdown trail for provincials by racking up the most Canadian Team Ranking System points in the province by the Dec. 1 cutoff date.
Martin is ranked fourth in the World Curling Tour money list at $62,000 during an up and down season for his rink.
In mid-December, Martin underwent a successful hernia operation and missed the Canadian Open of Curling in Kelowna as his rink finished 2-3 with Joe Frans of Ontario in the line-up.
“Kevin’s injury was kind of a turning point in the season. Since he’s been back he’s been playing a lot better and we’re getting better and better with every game. We played well at the Continental Cup and we played well again at the last Slam (The National last month in Port Hawkesbury, N.S.). Mike McEwan I think played 95 (per cent) to beat us in the semifinal (5-4),” Kennedy said.
The next provincial championship for Martin will be his 12th but a return trip to the Olympics with the 2010 gold medalists might wrap up his hall-of-fame career.
“We don’t discuss or talk about it but I think it’s all in the back of our mind that it could potentially be the last attempt to get to the Olympics and just in general knowing it could be the last year for this team but we’re more focused on stuff in the moment and hopefully it all works out for us,” Kennedy said.
Last winter Martin’s rink qualified for the Canadian Olympic Trials, Dec. 1 to 8 in Winnipeg. The 2014 Winter Olympics start Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia.
“The experience of the last trials and Olympics is really big for us, just knowing what it takes that year leading up to it with the extra work ethic, the extra practice and the importance of the games. You can feel it starting to matter more and more as we get closer to December,” said Kennedy, one of the inaugural six inductees into the St. Albert Curling Club’s wall of fame in 2011.