Can someone tell me why the Semi-final has to be played during an early morning draw when most of us are recuperating from our hangover after winning an award for this article? That's my name below the list of Brier All-stars. Yup, I was as surprised as you are.
The Bronze medal game. Previous arguments I heard on this was "don't complain, you don't have to watch it" and also "it got great TV ratings". Well, now it puts the Semi-final in the morning and pushes the finals to later in the evening. I don't mind the late start to the finals but it meant I couldn't take my kids. I couldn't chance the sugar-induced-zombie-transformation that happens to my son around 9 pm, especially on a school night. It wouldn't be safe for me or other spectators in the arena.
The TV excuse didn't hold this year as the game WASN'T TELEVISED. Note, it was the ONLY Brier draw which was not shown on TSN. If Toronto Sports Network Canada's Sports Leader and their sponsors don't even care, why should we?
Semi-Finals: Brad Jacobs - Northern Ontario vs. Glenn Howard - Ontario
Team Howard opens with a skip+cornerguard generated deuce, and team Jacobs rebounds in the second end to tie it up.
NO has the pressure on in the 3rd end but Brad makes an error on his final draw, leaving a double for a possible (if difficult) three but the shooter rolls out and Howard is back up two.
In the 4th end, holding hammer and down 4-2, Jacobs third Ryan Fry makes a routine triple and roll behind the corner guard on his first. Ontario third Wayne Middaugh manages to hit and roll to the centre and Jacobs decides to come around the corner to sit second shot, rather than hit (and roll). This is a call I don't believe we would have seen from Brad 2 years ago. Announcer Russ (older brother of Glenn) Howard comments it may be late to try this shot. Glenn faces this with his first shot:
Howard is Yellow
They discuss throwing up a guard or running the corner guard back (green line). Russ comments that it's difficult to draw for second shot (blue line) and not leave a double. Up two points at this stage, they also don't want to risk giving up three. What seemed to be an overly agressive strategy by Jacobs has in fact worked to his advantage. Even if Glenn makes the runback, Brad will still have a chance at a deuce with a hit and roll. Glenn in fact misses the runback and Jacobs is able to score two points.
Looking at this with rough numbers, let's estimate a centre guard attempt produces a deuce 40%, a force 50%, a steal 5% and a three 5%. We'll assume a runback will always result in a blank if made and a deuce if missed (granted, there's some small chance of a force, a steal or even a deuce, but humour me). Using those numbers, Howard needs to make the runback 55% of the time for the call to be correct. If we think 40% for the deuce is high (I do) Glenn has to be even more accurate for the runback to be correct. If we believe the chance for a runback is 70% (which I believe falls somewhere in the low end of the statistical range) appears to be close with either call.
5th end is what Northern Ontario may look back to as the turning point for their Brier. After placing a tight centre, Howard chooses a corner guard rather than come around. Then, on both of second Brent Laing's shots, Glenn chooses run backs (in an attempt to knock his frozen stone into the NO shot stone), rather than double peeling. He is succesful on his second shot, but there are now 4 guards in play. After a missed runback by Wayne and a missed hit by Glenn on his first, Jacobs is able to draw and sit 3. Glenn could draw on his last but its a wide path and with backing, chooses instead to throw hack weight. Wide and heavy and with a roll away NO is able to steal 2 points and take a 6-4 lead at the break.
Unlike Jacobs earlier, Howard is unable to rebound with a deuce. Glenn has an opportunity, drawing around a centre guard to sit two. Jacobs comes up and taps the Howard stone, sitting second:
Howard is Yellow
Ontario chooses a very difficult thin hit off their own, attempting to carom into the red and catch their top yellow on the red at the side to score 3 points (green lines). The rock curls a hair too much and the blue lines are the result, a single point.
This is a very difficult shot with no margin for error. I wondered if a peel of the red rock top four foot for two was simple, but they never really discussed or looked at it.
Let's estimate this IF the peel/pick was makeable 80% of the time. We expect the shot for three is most often either for 1 or three, ie. two would not occur often (which, based on results, appeared to be the case). Glenn has to make this shot 35% of the time in order for it to be the correct call.
With a single, Ontario is now down 6-5 without hammer in a game that had seemed to be under control only 20 minutes ago.
In the 7th end, Jacobs makes an angle raise hit to score two and take a commanding 3 point lead with 3 ends to play.
In the 8th end, everyone, including Glenn, seems convinced Jacobs will continue to peel corner guards until he gives up a deuce. NO instead throws a guard on Brad's first shot, covering his two rocks in top eight and four foot. I prefer the runback attempt (at which Brad is very capable) but in reality the call isn't much of a mistake. The chance of giving up a three is very small and given the scoreboard, NO is highly likely to win regardless of their decision.
With a steal in 8, the outcome is not really in doubt and NO upsets the team that was undefeated up until 9:30 PM on Friday night.
...ok, let's save the Brier Final until Part III