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Regina Brier has an 'extra little spice' for Howard in new role

Scott Howard Scott Howard - The Canadian Press

REGINA – Ontario’s Scott Howard is competing in his sixth career Montana’s Brier this week at the Brandt Centre, but the very first as a skip. 

“Every Brier you go to is so exciting, but it’s an extra little spice to come here skipping,” Howard told following a close extra-end loss to Manitoba’s Team Reid Carruthers on a snowy Sunday morning in Regina. “It’s always fun to curl in the Brier. I want to curl here every year.”

Howard, 33, has taken control of the full skip duties after his 61-year-old father, four-time Brier champion Glenn Howard, suffered a knee injury during a bonspiel earlier this season and hasn’t been able to hit the ice since.

Team Howard – also featuring third David Mathers and lead Tim March – won the Ontario Tankard in late January with just three players before adding old friend Mat Camm to fill out the lineup for the Brier. 

“As soon as my knee went down in early December, he’s [Scott] taking the helm and just owned the position. Super impressed with that," said the elder Howard, who’s serving as coach of Team Ontario. 

"I knew he would be good, but he seems just so comfortable, and that’s hard to do when you just come in playing against the big boys. You’re not playing against the club curlers. He’s just been unbelievable with his confidence. The boys have stepped it up and he’s calling a great game. I can see he’s got a little bit of a swagger.”

In his first five appearances at the Canadian men’s curling championship, Scott played the lead position three times before moving up to vice in the most recent two. 

Scott says he’s feeling more comfortable with his new responsibilities after every game, and can see himself skipping more in the future.  

“I’m really enjoying throwing last rock and having all that pressure,” explained Scott, who shot 84 per cent in each of Ontario’s first two games. “We’re just going to take it game by game and see what happens. We’ll talk about next year after this year and see what the boys want to do. I would love to keep skipping for sure.”

Papa Howard agrees. 

“I think he can play any position to be honest with you. He seems to be really flourishing right now at skip.” 

Team Ontario won a thriller over British Columbia on Saturday afternoon in their Brier opener after Howard executed a pistol to score three with the last shot of the game.

ContentId(1.2083804): Must See: Scott Howard hits amazing final shot to beat British Columbia

The shot was reminiscent of his father’s epic game-winner from the 2009 Brier in Calgary, considered one of the best shots of all-time.

ContentId(1.2082065): Greatest Shots: Howard’s miraculous ricochet from the 2009 Brier

“We talk about anything. It’s an open forum so to speak,” Glenn said of their relationship. “He asks me a bunch of stuff and I give him input. And he can take it and I can take it. It’s worked out real well. I think it’s a good little formula right now.”

On Sunday morning, Howard and company lost a hard-fought battle to Manitoba’s Team Carruthers, 7-6, in a game that came down to a measure in the extra end. 

“It’s always fun to be in those close games,” said the skip. 

Howard and Team Ontario struggled in the evening draw, dropping an 8-2 decision to Alberta's Team Brendan Bottcher. They are now 1-2 in Regina with a date against Newfoundland and Labrador slated for Monday afternoon. 

Glenn, who has played in 18 Briers in his career dating back to 1986, says watching from the bench has been a “nerve-wracking” experience, especially given how close the first two games have been. 

“Any sort of coaching position you feel sort of helpless out there,” said Howard.

“It’s super fun watching the boys play. Watching my son skip his first Brier. I love every minute of it, but it can be very nerve wracking.”

As for his own playing career, Howard doesn’t know what the future holds. 

“My knee is so bloody sore, it doesn’t look good right now, but who knows what’s going on with that. Honestly, I’m not really worrying about that,” said Howard, who has played the granite game for 51 years. “I was leading up to this and just realized it wasn’t good enough so now I’m just focusing on the task at hand.”

And that task is to get Team Ontario into the Brier playoffs out of a difficult Pool A.