Kennedy slides to Brier
Southpaw second from St. Albert will curl in his fifth Brier with the Kevin Martin rink
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013 06:00 am
Leduc – Marc Kennedy was awestruck by the magnitude of the moment after surviving Sunday’s “epic battle” for a historic date at the Edmonton Brier.
“I can’t believe it! Hometown Brier, that’s what you play for your whole life!” said the overjoyed St. Albert Curling Club product after Kevin Martin knocked off Kevin Koe 5-4 in Sunday’s thriller for the Boston Pizza Cup provincial championship.
“We’re super excited for it. It’s going to be an amazing event, and a stacked Brier too. It should be a lot of fun and we’re going to enjoy every single minute of it,” added Kennedy, a five-time Alberta champion, two-time Brier winner, 2008 world champion and 2010 Olympic gold medallist with rinkmates Martin, John Morris and Ben Hebert.
The March 2 to 10 Brier at Rexall Place promises to bring out the very best in the Martin rink.
“We can’t wait. We’ll be ready. We want to put on a great show for the hometown fans,” Kennedy said.
Martin punched his team’s ticket to the Brier with a tension-filled last rock tap-back for the winning point against Koe in a dramatic final that rivaled the biggest games Kennedy has ever played during a hall-of-fame career.
“That was pretty thrilling. That was probably the most epic battle we’ve had as a team in seven years, and it was against one of the best teams in the world. It was awesome,” raved Kennedy. “I’m always super excited if we win a big event but there is a big sigh of relief too because the tension is high for the whole week and the whole game is so close and when it’s over you can almost take a big breath and relax and know you did your best and you won. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
The pressure to perform was overwhelming.
“There was so much on the line, just knowing that you get to play in a Brier in Edmonton and our team hasn’t won a big event in quite a while so it was high stress out there. The nerves and energy and excitement were really high. It was great to be a part of,” said Kennedy, a four-time Brier first team all-star at second.
In a classic confrontation, the first and ninth ends were blanked, no deuces were scored, there were measurements in the fourth and eighth ends, plus a steal in six by Koe to lead 3-2 and one by Martin in eight to go up 4-3. In the 10th end there were three timeouts in a span of four shots to survey the situation, with Martin calling two of them.
“Nobody really had an edge the whole game. It was back and forth. There was only one point leads. Both teams played aggressively to not have a deuce the whole game,” Kennedy said. “It was just a great game. It could’ve gone either way right to the last rock and we were just lucky enough to be on the right side of the inch.”
Koe – the 2012 champion and Brier finalist and 2010 Brier winner and world champion – was gunning for a deuce with last rock in 10 but was unable to pull off a double-takeout and remain in the four-foot for the win. Koe only had five seconds remaining on his play clock when he delivered the rock. After the dust settled, the body language of the Koe rink was one of disappointment, while the Martin rink looked like they had won the lottery.
“We were a little bit fortunate in the 10th end that he didn’t get his deuce. Kevin was a centimetre away from making that shot for two so we easily could’ve lost but that’s what makes curling so great when it goes right down to the wire like that,” Kennedy said.
In the extra end, Martin made his last shot count with Koe lying shot.
“All you do in that situation is clean the path and hope it doesn’t pick and hope he throws a good one,” Kennedy said. “To be honest, as a sweeper you hope he doesn’t throw it heavy or wide because you want to sweep it.”
Martin also beat Koe in Thursday’s A final 6-5, marking the third straight year both teams hooked up in the A qualifier. Steals of one in seven and eight by Martin made it 5-3 before Koe replied with a deuce in nine. Martin sealed the deal in the 10th end.
The A winner in the triple-knockout competition has won provincials since the Page playoff system was introduced in 2008.
After going 5-0 at provincials, the Martin rink is now 15-1 since their skip returned to action in January from a hernia operation in mid-December.
“Everything kind of came together for us in this event. We did have a tough game against the King boys (from St. Albert in the 7-6 extra-end win in the A semifinals), they probably should’ve have beat us, but from that moment on we played pretty solid and props to the skipper; he played great today. He made some big ones to keep us in that game and then of course this last one. You don’t win these big events without your skip playing really well,” said Kennedy of the 46-year-old Martin, who will curl in his 12th Brier but the first in Edmonton in his bid to become the first player to skip five teams to a Canadian championship and the first to do so in three different decades.
Last year Martin failed to make the provincial final after placing fourth at the 2011 Brier.
“After all the success we’ve had over the years maybe we took things a little bit for granted thinking that we can beat anybody any time so we put a lot more work into this year,” said Kennedy, 31.
The Paul Kane High School alumnus also added the Bo Davidiuk Award to his vast hardware collection, as well as $500, for his sweeping prowess, team support and sportsmanship at provincials. The award is named in honour of Bo Davidiuk, a lifetime participant and supporter of curling. Davidiuk was a front-end player who was dedicated to the craft of sweeping and was a true team player. Davidiuk passed away Nov. 22, 2009 at age 63.
“Anytime you take individual awards it’s great, but we were here for the big prize, which was just to win and we did so that’s very good,” said the former high school quarterback for the St. Albert Storm.