The first question I asked Glenn Howard last night in the scrum after his 1-2 page win over Brad Jacobs was a simple one:
“Never in doubt?”
He laughed, knowing full well that it was anything but and probably that his Ontario rink got away with one. Despite the mis-match in experience, Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario foursome were very impressive in the first half of the game and Howard himself was not. Howard missed three shots over two ends – a missed raise takeout, a tick on a guard while trying a thin double and a draw that came short – to really stake the team from the Soo to a good lead.
But it seemed to me that the Northern Ontario boys became a little nervous (Jacobs said they weren’t) at just where they suddenly found themselves – a couple of ends away from a spot in the final.
I also think that Jacobs’ strategy was perhaps a little too much on the hitting side.
They chose run-backs over corner freezes a couple of times. But then again, I’m on the press bench and they’re on the ice.
In any event, they get a second berth tonight in the semi-final.
As for Howard, I think Richard Hart summed it up best when he said a bad game for Glenn is when he misses three shots. Which is true. You just always expect Glenn to make everything and when he doesn’t, you think he’s falling apart.
For me, the momentum changer in the whole game was in the sixth, when Richard Hart came through a port so narrow there was no daylight on either side of the rock. Howard was truly pumped at that shot and he and Hart high-fived – something you don’t often see from the normally cool and collected Howard.
Right now, you have to like their chances for the title. They’re playing well and when they’re not, they’re still winning. I haven’t seen anything from the other teams that makes me think they’re going to beat the Ontario foursome. We’ll see if that changes.