After seven days, 17 draws and 66 games, the playoffs at the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier were set Friday evening, and it didn't work to Alberta's advantage.
Needing to beat the unbeaten Glenn Howard of Ontario, Alberta skip Kevin Martin did his part scoring a dramatic 6-5 win but didn't get enough help from other teams to move up in the standings and qualify for the playoffs.
In the end, once the ice chips had settled, Howard and Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton made it into Saturday afternoon's 1-2 game while Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador and Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario will clash later in the 3-4 game. The winner of the 1-2 game advances to Sunday's championship final. The loser of the 1-2 game will face the winner of the 3-4 game for a berth in the final.
How the four playoff-bound teams ended up in the order they did was determined largely by Friday's concluding draw.
Manitoba defeated B.C. in an extra end to finish at 8-3. Northern Ontario beat Nova Scotia to finish 8-3. Newfoundland also finished at 8-3, creating a three-way tie that was ultimately broken by the pre-game draws to the button recorded during the round-robin games. The draws were dutifully measured with Manitoba coming out on top overall. That gave Stoughton second place and another shot at Howard, who had beaten Manitoba almost a week ago.
Falling in behind Stoughton were Gushue and Jacobs.
The biggest crowd of the 2013 Canadian men's curling championship came to Rexall Place to see Martin attempt a comeback for the ages. After losing four of his first five games, the four-time Brier champion considered his team's playoff chances beyond hope. Even his teammates agreed.
"The chances of us making the playoffs are far-fetched," Marc Kennedy had said.
Then Alberta went on a five-game winning streak that took them to Friday's showdown with Howard. Even with a win, Martin knew he needed other rinks to lose so he could sneak into the playoffs.
He pulled ahead 2-0 after the first end, saw the game tied after two then drew for one to tie it at 4-4 after seven ends. Martin stole one in the eighth and had the hammer in the 10 end. He used it to claim a 7-4 record that left him in fifth place, not where he wanted to be but a fan favourite just the same.