Glenn Howard’s rink considered favourites at Dominion Tankard
Eleven teams from around Ontario began their opening round for the 2013 Dominion Tankard at Barrie Molson Centre on Monday. The competition determines Ontario's entry in the upcoming Tim Horton Briar, the men's championship being held this year in Edmonton. J.T. MCVEIGH BARRIE EXAMINER
Given their pedigree, it would be hard not to consider them the favourite.
But Glenn Howard is staying humble about his rink.
The seven-time defending provincial champion is looking forward to the opportunity of skipping Team Howard to eight in a row this week at the 2013 Dominion Tankard, taking place at the Barrie Molson Centre.
“To continue any streak in sports is really tough,” Howard said. “Obviously, to win two, three or four in a row is impressive, but to win seven, I just can’t believe we’ve done it.”
Howard and his rink, featuring Victoria Harbour’s Wayne Middaugh, Shanty Bay’s Brent Laing, and Ottawa’s Craig Savill, come into the event having done pretty well over the past few months.
“December was fantastic, and most of January was fantastic,” Howard said. “The last weekend we played, we didn’t do so well.
“We went 2-3 in Port Hawkesbury, not quite what the doctor ordered, but the six to seven weeks before that were really solid,” Howard added. “We were pretty tired and had a long January, but I think I like what I see.”
Team Howard, which went undefeated in last year’s Dominion Tankard, began the week on the right foot with a 7-2, seven-end victory over Wayne Tuck on Monday afternoon.
“You want to get started well,” Howard said. “There’s always a big hype coming into the provincials, and the bottom line is, we played really well. We came out gangbusters, really played solid and got a nice win.”
Although Howard has been in many championships and big events around the world, this is his first opportunity to play for the provincial crown in his own backyard.
“I love it,” Howard said about the event taking place in Barrie. “I just couldn’t be happier.”
Even the modest Monday afternoon audience made it quite clear who they were cheering for.
“As the crowds get bigger and bigger, I’m probably going to know three-quarters or four-fifths of the people here,” Howard said. “I have a lot of family and friends coming down from Penetang and Midland, and from pretty much anywhere in Simcoe County.
“Again, I was ecstatic when I found out that it was here in Barrie, and I think you’re going to see that it’s going to be one of the best-attended events that we’ve ever had.”
Playing with the home-crowd advantage as defending champions to boot, Howard’s rink is clearly the target that opponents will be gunning for.
“Obviously, the other teams will get up to play us,” Howard said. “We just have to bring that proverbial ‘A’ game as many times as we can.”
With a healthy level of competition in this year’s tournament, there’s no telling which rink might give Howard the most fits.
“Everybody could,” Howard said. “Everyone here deserves to be here and they’re all great teams.
“We just can’t look too far ahead and have to keep making our shots.”
The current quartet has been together for a couple of seasons now, with Middaugh joining the squad before the 2011-12 campaign to take over for the retired Richard Hart.
“Wayne and I have been friends for 30 years now,” Howard said. “We’ve been blessed to play together back in the early 1990s, won a championship together, and then, for 15 or 16 years, he was my direct competitor.
“But we remained close friends, good buddies on and off the ice, and to have him come on board last year was unbelievable.”
The ability and cohesion of that squad, right from the start, was undeniable.
“Lo and behold, we won the world championship,” Howard said. “Now, it’s just a matter of trying to build on that, and see if we can do it all over again.”
Team Howard plays twice on Tuesday, taking on Pat Ferris at 2 p.m. before going up against Howard Rajala at 7 p.m. For information, visit www.thedominiontankard2013.ca.