Team Ontario leans on experience at Brier in St. John's

Ontario skip Glenn Howard is flying under the radar in his 17th appearance at the Brier.

Skip Glenn Howard is making his 17th championship appearance

Team Ontario skip Glenn Howard reacts to his shot entering the house during round robin competition at the Brier curling championship. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

ST JOHN'S — There isn't much Glenn Howard hasn't seen or won in the world of curling. 

He's been crowned Canadian champion four times. He's won the world curling title four times. This is the 17th time he's played in the Brier.

For perspective, his first Brier win was in 1987 when he played third on the Ontario team skipped by his brother, Russ Howard.

"There are no surprises," Howard said. "I'm relaxed out there. I'm having fun out there and taking it all in."

But at 54 years old Howard will be the first to tell you he can't keep up with the young guns of the game like he used to. The team has played less this year just to ensure peak performance at this year's Brier.

"We can't go every weekend or every other weekend so you rely on experience," he said.

When Howard takes to the ice tonight in St. John's, it'll be his 210th game at the Brier, more than any other player in the history of the championship. He's played the last two Brier championships with his son, Scott, the team's lead.

But the majority of those games have been played with Ontario third, Richard Hart. The two were on the same team when they won the 2007 Brier in Hamilton, Ont.

"Most of the guys respect us and know we're dangerous but I don't think they're planning on us being around at the end of the week," Hart said. "That's a bit of a motivator for us."

Capable of beating any team at Brier

Both Howard and Hart know how taxing the Brier championship can be and are hoping experience reigns supreme throughout the 11 round-robin games.

"We're capable of beating any team here and we know that," said Howard. "Are we the best team coming in? No. But if we can get into a nice little mode and play it close to the vest we can beat anybody. We know we can beat anybody."

That confidence is shared by Hart, however, tempered somewhat by the fact that he feels they're a team flying under the radar.

"It's an adjustment for us because we're used to coming into events like this and being able to run off a bunch of games in a row. Here it's not like that," Hart said.

"The drive is still there. The teams are so bloody good."

Hart says for so long their team was the front-runner. Usually picked to make it to the playoffs and in some cases picked to win the entire championship.

"We're one of the guys chasing as opposed to one of the leaders. It's not that comfortable," he said.

But for as uncomfortable as this new reality might be for Hart, Howard is embracing this year's Brier in St. John's.

"I'm taking it all in. The crowd is crazy but it's a fun crazy and enjoying every minute," Howard said. "We've thrown our 10,000 hours of practice, we're right where we need to be, it's just a matter of going out there and enjoying it."

The goal for Ontario is to make the playoffs. Then Hart and Howard both say, anything can happen.


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