When I saw the first men's draw for the olympic trials, I assumed that TSN would pick Ferbey vs Martin for the feature televised match. And so they have! Excellent. A match we could not get at the regionally based Brier, as both teams are based in Alberta.
This morning's newspapers were full of the news, hinted at in my earlier post, that Russ Howard would indeed by shooting second for Brad Gushue's team, and calling the shots.
First end: Martin has the hammer
Early centre-line and corner guards up; jockeying back and forth trying to get buried behind one of them. Martin's second third shot brushes the corner guard and Nedohin does not quite manage to bury his rock behind the centre guard. Martin draws beautifully behind the cover of the centre guard and Nedohin's rock. Nedohin places a rock just on the corner of Martin's rock - in fact if he had been allowed to place it, he would have put it where it is!. Bartlett tells Martin to throw away his last rock and take one. As he does. 1-0 Martin. Two unbelievable shots already.
A typical Martin-team end in a way - an early guard creates a little congestion in the rings with some stray Ferbey rocks, so Martin starts clearing the mess away. Now (first third rock) a single Martin centre-line guard, with an exposed Ferbey rock in the house. Neither third gets behind cover - and it seems Ferbey does not even try on his second shot. Martin does not manage to bury his draw, leaving is slightly exposed in the 12-foot. (Side comment - he says "Sorry guys". I recall the young Martin berating and blaming the rest of his team for failures in key matches. My taste for him has improved with his improving character.) Nedohin inadvertently clears the guard, Martin drops a rock somewhat behind his rock in the 12-foot. Nedohin misses the double and leaves Martin a steal of 1. 2-0 Martin
Interesting - three of the matches in this draw would be impossible at the Brier. There are two BC rinks and two Nova Scotia rinks going head-to-head. This is the sort of observation that over time is likely to make the Brier increasingly irrelevant to me. Also interesting - the Howard borthers are going head-to-head as well.
Ferbey comes around a corner guard with a Martin rock in the back 12-foot. Martin dislodges the guard, Ferbey puts one back, and now there are two Martin rocks guarding the house, one one just off the centre, one replacing Ferbey's corner guard. The Martin rock in the house is somewhat protected. Walchuk removes the Ferbey rock from the house. Ferbey misses a hit and roll - he hits but leaves the rock open. Walchuk obliges with a hit and stick that does not leave a lot for a roll; Ferbey hits and gets a slight roll. Martin hits one of the guards back to clear Ferbey's rock. Nedohin's draw wrecks on a guard. Martin's attempted tap-back wrecks as well. Nedohin gets to the 8-foot to take 1. 2-1 Martin.
It almost seems as if everyone in this match is getting MORE confused about the ice as the match proceeds.
Martin rock in the 8-foot as TSN returns, Ferbey centre-line guard in front of it. Ferbey has Rocque almost freeze to it and Martin answers in kind. Pfeifer does not get by the centre-line guard and we have quite a line of rocks at the front and in front of the house now. Pfeifer just misses a come-around and many rocks are in play. Rycroft removes the last Pfeifer rock and sticks. Ferbey responds and gets his rock into the front queue. Rats - my cat distracted me - the house is a mess. Walchuk is probably being asked to clean up. Nope - was asked to hit and roll and just hit. Ferbey does hit and roll - very nice shot and just by the guard - maybe they are getting the ice. Martin's attempt at sanitation goes slightly awry, leaving Ferbey lying 2 (sorry - golf phrasing); Nedohin puts an obstruction up, but leaves Martin contemplating a triple. He tries, it jams and Ferbey steals 2. The game is on! 3-2 Ferbey.
Got dragged away - arrived to find a Ferbey rock at the back of the button - Nedohin tries to guard but it is not quite perfect. Martin's freeze does not reach the rock. Nedohin tosses a guard into the 12-foot, and Martin starts calculating combination shots. One has to admire that in him - he just cannot help himself! And he does make a glorious shot, but just for 1. 3-3 through 5.
It cannot get a lot better than this.
It's interesting to look at the live scoring provided here
. Right now Nedohin and Martin are rated at 75% and 67%, respectively, which seems about right. Skip rocks have not lived up again to the first end finish. Wow! Apparently, form TSN, Martin is 56% on hits. Ferbey's team is very lucky.
Just back to the screen - another one of these vertical arrangements. Martin is counting 2, but Ferbey has two rocks in the house and a guard just off the centre line. Walchuk clears one of those and Martin now lies 3. After a very long discussion and a timeout Ferbey reciprocates, and seems to have shot rock after the hit. Martin also hits and fails to roll behind cover. Nedohin wrecks on the guard. Martin's three counting rocks might well be well-protected soon. Martin makes it four, and does not leave an easy path into the button. Nedohin has to draw to the 4-foot and it is nasty. Brilliant shot - just makes it. What a treat it is to watch these guys! 4-3 Ferbey.
Rocque goes into the 8-foot, Bartlett tosses up a corner guard. Rocque goes too far and edges into the 12-foot. Bartlett moves that rock back onto the one in the 8-ffot, removing it. Pfeifer puts a guard on the centre line and Rycroft raises their guard, almost freezing to the Ferbey rock in the 8-foot. Pfeifer rubs his own guard and winds up exposed just off the button (and back of it). Rycroft hits and rolls behind the other rocks in the house. (Rycroft is apparently 28 but looks 12.) Ferbey bounces off his rock into the four-foot. Martin wants Walchuk to draw but he has only been hitting. Not bad - he moves Ferbey's rock right to the button and sits in front of it - not quite as planned.
It is interesting to see how the deliberations of Ferbey's team always have to take into account the incredibly improbable combination shots they know Martin to be capable of.
Ferbey puts another guard up front - very tricky as rocks seem to be moving like crazy once close to the house.
(The Howard brothers are tied 6-all after 7 ends. That would have been fun to watch too.)
Walchuk has yet another sanitation job - come in and clean up the guards, who are proving annoying to Martin - threatening him with a Ferbey steal. And in the end it is not likely what was planned but Martin has opened up some raise possibilities for his forthcoming shots.
Linda Moore has pointed out that the game has slowed significantly. Not only does Ferbey's team worry about all the various combinations, Martin's team actually takes seriously more possible shots when considering what to do than many teams would, knowing they have Walchuk and Martin to deliver them.
Nedohin obstructs one raise possibility. Martin is now contemplating his first move. It is fun to watch. In fact I had forgotten how much fun it was to watch him contemplating unbelievable shots.
I do not believe it. Martin taps one of his guards, which hits another of his rocks, which boots the Ferbey rock off the button and sits in the four-foot so he counts two. It seems he has begun to figure the ice out. Nedohin draws unbelievably to the button. Woo-hoo! Martin planning a big runback, which the broadcast crew thinks was overlooked. Oopss - works as planned. 4 for Martin! 7-4 Martin. I am in awe. It is a bit like seeing one of those 18-move Paul Morphy combinations for checkmate.
The skips are likely improving their shooting percentages. :-)
I am not likely now to carry much detail as the Martin hitting and peeling skills will likely make things pretty simple for a while.
Ferbey takes 1, after several failed atempts to create a complicated end, foiled by the Martin team hitting. 7-5 Martin.
In other action, after a rough start, the senior Howard is ahead 8-6 after 8 ends.
We're a few shots in - Ferbey centre guard, two Martin rocks in the front of the house ... ok nevermind - Walchuk just cleaned up so there is now only one rock, one of Martin's, in the house. Now a couple of shots later - Martin cleans up some more. Scary stuff. In the end he takes 1 - 8-5 Martin.
Nedohin and Martin are now almost up in the mid-80s in scoring percentage. John Morris of Calgary(! - don;t I recall him being from Ontario?) has beaten Stoughton. The elder Howard/Gushue leads the younger 8-7, also taking the hammer into the tenth end.
Only a few rocks left as Martin's team are keeping things nicely clean. And it is over! Good match. Not so great as the first end portended.
This match does make one appreciate the three-guard rule. One should also recall that Kevin Martin has in the past found himself on the wrong end of a major pre-three-guard-rule hitting contest with the Scots.
And the elder Howard/Gushue win their match! Great start.