It's been quite a year for Team Canada's Glenn Howard. A perfect provincial championship run in Ontario, a near-perfect national championship run at The Brier and now, historic perfection in sight at the World Curling Championships in Basel, Switzerland.
Perfect World curling Championship records have been had before, but none would match Canada's this year, should Howard attain it.
Tuesday's 8-5 win over Denmark has Team Canada perched at a spotless 7 and oh, and on course to do something that hasn't been done in 17 years - win the global title with a perfect record. Should Howard, lead Craig Savill, second Brent Laing and vice Wayne Middaugh run the table the rest of the week, they would hit the top of the world championship pyramid, with a 13 and oh record.
That's never been done before.
In 1995, with 2 fewer round robin games to play, Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk finished with a gold medal and a peerless mark of 11 and oh, beating Scotland in the final in Brandon. He's the last skip to go stem to stern at the Worlds, without a blemish. Kevin Martin had a shot to turn a double (perfect Brier followed by perfect Worlds) in 2008, but after a 13 and oh Canadian championship, his rink went 10 and 1 in round robin play at the worlds, before winning the gold medal game against Scotland.
In fact, going undefeated to a gold medal has been done 10 times in the history of the World Mens' Curling Championship (the event dates back to 1959) and all have been accomplished by Canadians. From the modest 5 and oh of Ernie Richardson in 1959, to Burtnyk's 11 and oh in '95.
Howard's provincial title, his seventh in a row, was attained without a loss. 12 up, 12 down. At The Brier, his team went 12 and 1, including playoffs. Now, with a 7 and oh start at the Worlds, it means the only team to beat them on this march, so far, is Jamie Koe's Northwest Territories/Yukon team in draw 5 of The Brier.
As with international women's curling, the competition has grown over the years and so have the number of games it takes to win the gold medal. So, it won't be easy for Howard's crew. Still, with the team sailing along and Middaugh playing perhaps better than he ever has, there's a real possibility of this coming to pass. Canada's team shooting percentage stands at 90%, a full 7 points better than the number two rink, from China.
Most difficult of Canada's remaining four round robin tests come on Wednesday. They'll square off against the always tough Swedes. Despite losing their immensely talented Skip, Niklas Edin, due to back problems, Sweden still stood tied for second in the standings, with a record of 5 and 1. That game will be followed by one against the pesky Tom Brewster and Team Scotland. Should Canada outlast those two, Thursday sees an easier ride, with their final two games against New Zealand and China. After that, you'd be back into the difficult foes again, for the playoffs.
Like I said, it won't be easy. But Howard's team has a chance to do what's never been accomplished before.
Thirteen and oh and gold.