Menard shocks Howard, wins 2006 Brier
Mar 20, 2006 -- REGINA -- Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard is the 2006 Tim Hortons Brier champion.
Menard stole one in the first end and then three more in the second end to jump out to a 4-0 lead en route to an 8-7 win over Ontario’s Glenn Howard in Sunday night’s Brier final.
Menard, supported by third Francois Roberge, second Eric Sylvain and lead Maxime Elmaleh, will now represent Canada at the World Men’s Curling Championship, Apr. 1-9 in Lowell, Massachusetts.
“Since I started playing curling, this was my dream and here it is,” said Menard.
Ontario mounted a strong comeback after falling behind in the early ends and Menard had to make a double takeout with the last rock of the game to preserve the victory,
Menard, of Quebec City, said he kept his cool as went down the ice to throw the last rock.
“I was nervous all game long but not more nervous than the other shots,” said Menard. “It was a question of go to the hack, throw it and try to hit the stick.”
The loss was a tough one to swallow for Howard, who’d carried an 11-1 record into Sunday night’s game and had beaten Quebec twice earlier in the week -- once in the round-robin and again in the page playoff 1 vs 2 game.
“It’s upsetting. We played so well all week,” said Howard. “We didn’t come out with our A-game today.”
Howard said he was caught off-guard by straighter ice conditions Sunday night than he’d grown accustomed to. Howard said both his last rocks of the first and second ends ran straighter than he thought they would.
“I was shocked they didn’t curl up for me,” said Howard, who was supported at this Brier by third Richard Hart, second Brent Laing and lead Craig Savill.
Sunday’s Brier win is just the second for Quebec and the first since Jim Ursel won in 1977.
With the win, the Menard team also earns a berth into the 2007 Strauss Canada Cup, Mar. 13-18 in Kamloops and a provisional berth into the 2006 Continental Cup in Chilliwack, Nov. 23-26, provided he finishes no worse than third at the Worlds.
As finalists, both Menard and Howard also receive $40,000.
Menard was voted the Hec Gervais MVP of the final.