THE CANADIAN PRESS
QUEBEC — Two-time defending champion Kevin Martin and Jeff Stoughton became the first two teams to secure a berth in the quarter-finals Thursday after six draws at The National curling event, the second leg of the Grand Slam of Curling.
Entering the day at 1-0, Edmonton’s Martin and Winnipeg’s Stoughton each won three round robin games Thursday to move atop the standings with perfect 4-0 records.
Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk is the only other undefeated team in the field at 3-0.
Martin remained on target for a third consecutive title at The National after posting a 6-3 victory over Greg McAulay of Richmond, B.C., a tight 5-3 decision over Pat Simmons of Davidson, Sask., and a 6-4 result over Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec City.
"We’ve got to find (the next gear)," said Martin, the reigning world champion. "Right now we’re playing good enough to qualify (for the quarter-finals), but not good enough to compete in the playoff round.
"We’re going to have to step it up a little bit tomorrow."
Stoughton’s run to the top of the leaderboard began with a 7-5 victory over Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey, followed by a narrow 6-5 extra end victory over Martin Ferland of Trois-Rivieres, Que.
Stoughton notched his third victory of the day in the evening after rallying from an early 3-0 deficit to defeat Edmonton’s Kevin Koe 8-6.
"It was a long day," said Stoughton. "Every game was a battle right down to the last shot. We were tied up coming home with Ferbey, we stole one in an extra end against Ferland, and (against Koe) it was right down to the last shot."
Burtnyk remained by beating Shawn Adams of Halifax 6-3 before edging Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., 6-5 in an extra end.
In the final frame, Burtnyk sealed the victory with a tough draw to the four-foot for a single point.
"It was a real interesting spot," said Burtnyk referring to his game winning shot. "The hole looked pretty big but with draw weight it’s really not that big. Fortunately for us, Glenn got just behind the T-line so it allowed me to kind of play to come down to it which made that shot easier."
Howard fell to 1-2, and his bid to win a fourth consecutive Capital One Grand Slam of Curling title, and a seventh consecutive World Curling Tour event championship is in jeopardy.
In the afternoon draw, Howard’s 13-game winning streak on the World Curling Tour was snapped following a 5-4 loss to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
In other action Thursday evening, reigning Olympic gold medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., improved to 3-1 after earning a 6-4 decision over China’s Fengchung Wang.