Team Kevin Martin (Photo Credit: Anil Mungal).

Kevin Martin doubles up on Niklas Edin to win Players’ Championship

April 18, 2011, 8:00 PM

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Edmonton’s Kevin Martin captured his record-extending 17th Grand Slam title doubling up on Niklas Edin of Sweden 6-3 Sunday to successfully defend the Players’ Championship.

The reigning Olympic champions Martin, third John Morris, second Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert have won nine Grand Slam of Curling titles since they banded together in 2006. It’s also Martin’s seventh Players’ Championship title.

Martin won the National in December to split the four-event Grand Slam of Curling series this season with Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, who took the World Cup and Canadian Open titles.

Trailing 2-1, Martin charged into the lead during the fourth end. Edin missed on a hit-and-roll attempt with his last allowing Martin to capitalize and draw for three to grab a 4-2 lead.

Martin padded his total with single steals in the fifth and sixth ends to put the game out of reach as Edin’s team struggled. Edin managed just one point in the seventh and the two rinks shook hands.

“They had a little misfortune today,” Martin said. “He had a couple of shots where he threw them well and they didn’t pan out. They would have panned out yesterday. I was watching their sheet yesterday and they were making everything. So you just take the breaks when you get them.

“We’ve had a great year. We didn’t play that well early, but we didn’t play a lot, either. But to finish like this at the Players’ is just amazing.”

Team Martin earned $25,000 for winning the Players’ Championship plus a $50,000 bonus for finishing first in the Capital One Cup as the overall season champions. McEwen came in second to pocket $25,000 with Glenn Howard, of Coldwater, Ont., in third for $10,000.

The recent world championship bronze medallists Edin, third Sebastian Kraupp, second Fredrik Lindberg and lead Viktor Kjell took home $16,000 for their runner-up finish, the first for a non-Canadian men’s team in the Grand Slam of Curling.

Martin and Edin were the top two teams through the week qualifying for the playoffs through the A brackets of the triple knockout.

Martin ousted Canadian junior champion Braeden Moskowy of Regina 6-2 during the quarterfinals and edged Kevin Koe of Edmonton 7-6 in the semis. Team Edin stole a point in the final frame to slip past Team Rob Fowler, of Brandon, Man., 7-6 in the quarters and became the first non-Canadian men’s squad to reach a Grand Slam final with a 5-4 extra-end victory over Team Howard.

LONG HAUL FOR JUNIORS: Moskowy and his team were the 16th and final team to enter the tournament and made the 13-hour, 1,200-plus km road trip from Regina. “[It] was a long haul,” the 20-year-old Moskowy said. “When you’re university students and in juniors, there’s not a lot of money floating around, so we decided to drive up.”

TAKING IT ALL IN: Moskowy added he was soaking in his new-found surroundings among the world’s best including the past two world champions Jeff Stoughton and Koe, and reigning Olympic champ Martin: “You got Stoughton, you got Martin, you got Koe, it’s just kinda like … you watch these guys on TV all the time and [think] ‘work hard and hopefully one day I’ll be out there playing with them.’ And to be doing it at this age is something pretty special.”

MACDONALD OUT, SIMMONS IN: It was the final event for Team Koe third Blake MacDonald, who is stepping back from competitive curling. MacDonald won the Brier and world championships with the Koe crew last year. Pat Simmons parted ways with his squad and will move one province west from Saskatchewan to join Team Koe at third.

FOWLER ON THE MEND: Fowler was injured Saturday morning during the extra end of his 6-5 C-qualifier win over Calgary’s Steve Petryk. Fowler’s carbon-fibre brush snapped causing him to crash to the ice and sustain a shoulder injury. World Curling Tour president Pierre Charette filled in on Team Fowler for their quarterfinal loss to Edin.

MCEWEN MAGICAL IN C-QUALIFIER: With the season almost over, McEwen made one final chance to claim the “shot of the year” title with a sizzling in-off takeout to score two and eliminate Rob Schlender 6-5 in the C-qualifiers. McEwen slipped to the C-side early with two straight losses and the win marked his third straight to advance to the quarterfinals.