Howard hands Stoughton 1st loss at Brier
With Alberta on the verge of a losing streak at the Brier, team lead Ben Hebert couldn't contain his frustration.
His team was coming off a rare loss the night before and did not look sharp early Tuesday morning. Nova Scotia scored three in the opening end and skip Shawn Adams added two more in the fifth. That's when an upset Hebert kicked the padded rock cushion at the end of the sheet before hurling his water bottle to the ground.
Team third John Morris looked discouraged. Team second Marc Kennedy's toothy grin had disappeared.
Enter veteran skip Kevin Martin. The Olympic champion told his team in no uncertain terms what needed to be done and Alberta responded with a comeback 9-7 victory.
Martin wouldn't reveal what was said, but he got the result he was looking for.
"There's no sense putting sugar on it," Martin said. "I might as well say exactly what I'm thinking and man, the last half we had to be close to 100 [per cent shooting percentage]."
Martin scored three with a double takeout in the ninth end to seal the victory.
"We hung in there," he said. "I think that's the moral of that game.
"We got down early and it wasn't really anyone's fault. Then just some bad breaks and we came back strong."
After the fifth end, Hebert cooled down for a few minutes in the locker-room area at the John Labatts Centre before returning to the ice. Alberta is an experienced rink and it showed in the second half.
"We've been here before," Hebert said. "It's frustrating when you're playing the best teams in the world and you're supposed to be one of the best teams in the world and you're not playing like it for the first few ends.
"But you know what, we played really good for the last four ends."
Adams said his team put in a solid effort.
"We played good for eight ends, the last two were tough," he said.
Following the victory
Alberta followed the victory with a solid 7-5 win over Quebec's Francois Gagne to improve to 6-1, good for a share of first place with Ontario and Manitoba.
Alberta was idle in Tuesday's late draw and found its way into the first-place tie without having to lift a broom after Ontario's Glenn Howard handed Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton his first loss of the Brier.
Ontario scored two in the third end and stole another pair in the fourth en route to a 7-4 win over Stoughton, a two-time Brier winner.
Earlier Tuesday, Howard defeated Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue.
Gushue, who ended Martin's 30-game Brier winning streak on Monday night, said it was a disappointing effort.
"It was just poor execution, poor throws, poor communication out there," Gushue said. "There was a lot of stuff that went wrong and that's the only reason we lost the game.
"I thought our game plan was the right one, we just didn't execute it very well."
Gushue responded with an 8-3 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories/Yukon in the late draw to improve to 5-2.
It was Koe's second loss of the day, after falling 10-4 to Stoughton earlier.
Saskatchewan's Steve Laycock is still in the mix at 4-3 after posting his second victory of the day in the late draw, 8-7 over Prince Edward Island.
Nova Scotia and Northern Ontario followed at 3-4.
Northwest Territories/Yukon was tied with B.C., Quebec and New Brunswick at 2-5, Quebec was 2-5 while B.C. and Prince Edward Island was in last place at 1-6.
Round-robin play continues through Thursday night. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs.
A bronze medal game has been added to the playoff schedule this year. It will be played Sunday afternoon before the championship game that evening.