Craig Savill, Brent Laing, Wayne Middaugh and Glenn Howard celebrate after winning the 2011 World Cup of Curling title. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Glenn Howard holds off John Epping to win 2011 World Cup

November 6, 2011, 3:26 PM

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Glenn Howard captured the World Cup of Curling holding on to win 6-4 over John Epping in Sunday’s final.

The Coldwater, Ont., team of Howard, second Brent Laing, and lead Craig Savill won the title for the fifth time in six seasons with newly minted third Wayne Middaugh capturing his second overall.

Middaugh won the world championship in 1993 with Howard and the two rejoined forces this season following the retirement of Richard Hart.

“We seem to like the first clam of the year, again we seemed to play well enough to win,” said Howard, who earned $24,000 with the title victory.

It was also the first father vs. son battle in a Grand Slam final with Glenn son’s Scott Howard playing second on Team Epping.

Howard broke a 2-2 tie with a three-ender in the fourth. Epping replied with a deuce in the fifth to narrow the gap to one but couldn’t close the deficit. Howard settled for a single in the seventh to increase his lead to a two-point advantage and the teams shook hands during the eighth.

It was a marathon Saturday for the Toronto-based team of Epping, third Scott Bailey, second Howard, and lead David Mathers, who finished the round-robin portion with a 3-2 record and had to double their win total on the day just to clinch a spot in the championship game.

“It was a long weekend, but I’m really proud of the team,” said Epping, who won the National Grand Slam of Curling title with Middaugh in 2008. “I’m proud of the two kids in front of me (Mathers and Howard). They hung in there all week. They were probably nervous but you wouldn’t be able to tell.”

Epping edged Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont., 6-5 in a tiebreaker, defeated Brad Gushue of St. John’s 7-4 during the quarterfinals and slipped past Edmonton’s Kevin Martin 4-3 in the semis.

“Thank God for adrenaline because it got us through the day,” said Epping, who won the National in 2008 playing second for Middaugh. “The kids [Mathers and Howard] are 20 and 21 so they had lots of energy. They’re in great shape. We knew that they could last through the day. It was us old guys at the back end that tried to hang around.”

Mathers and Howard joined Team Epping this year after winning the Ontario junior title and a silver medal at the junior nationals last season.

The elder Howard was pleased with the way his son’s team played this week.

“When they won last night against Kevin Martin, arguably the best team in the world the last five years, I was so proud to see they pulled that off,” Glenn said. “It was a bit of a David and Goliath but they played great and won and then realizing that I get to play them in the final. Obviously I want to win and he wants to win but I wanted him to play really well and he did.”

Howard advanced to the playoffs with a 4-1 record beating defending champ Mike McEwen of Winnipeg 4-2 and Niklas Edin of Sweden 5-2 in order to advance to the final.

The World Cup of Curling is the first leg of the 2011-12 Grand Slam of Curling series. The tour resumes for the BDO Canadian Open running Dec. 14-18 in Kingston, Ont., followed by the Swiss Chalet National, Jan. 25-29, 2012 in Dawson Creek, B.C. The season concludes with the Players’ Championship, April 10-15, 2012, in Summerside, P.E.I.