Alberta's Koe advances to Brier gold-medal game
Alberta skip Kevin Koe waves after winning against Northern Ontario in semi-final competition at the Tim Hortons Brier men's curling championship in Ottawa on Saturday, March 12, 2016. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, March 13, 2016 8:50AM EDT
OTTAWA -- Alberta's Kevin Koe and Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs exchanged singles for the first nine ends of their semifinal at the Tim Hortons Brier on Saturday night.
The first deuce of the game -- confirmed on a measure -- gave Koe a berth in the gold-medal game.
The Alberta skip hit a takeout in the 10th end that left him with at least a point. The 8,154 spectators at TD Place were then treated to the drama of the measuring device confirming a second stone barely caught a piece of the 12-foot.
The 6-5 win set off exuberant fist pumps and hugs among the victors as the near-sellout crowd roared its approval.
"When we had the chance, we seized it and we're moving on," Koe said.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue will provide the opposition on Sunday night. He earned the berth with a comeback win over Jacobs in the Page Playoff 1-2 game on Friday.
Northern Ontario didn't lose in the round-robin but couldn't win in the playoffs. The rink struggled at times in the second half of the 1-2 game and Jacobs had a few uncharacteristic misses in the semifinal.
"We had three really good chances for twos and didn't make them," Jacobs said. "It's on me in a lot of ways and it sucks."
Koe reached the semifinal with a 7-5 win over Mike McEwen of Manitoba in the Page Playoff 3-4 game earlier in the day. Jacobs will play McEwen for bronze on Sunday.
Jacobs started with hammer and scored a single in the opening end. There were plenty of rocks in play over the early going but neither rink was able to pull away.
Jacobs had a chance for two in the seventh end but his draw was heavy and he settled for one. He had another chance in the ninth when he took out two Koe rocks but he tapped his own stone out of the rings as well.
"For the game to come down to a measurement like that, it's just the way that it went for us," Jacobs said. "Everything was just barely missed."
Koe will be looking for his third career Brier title. He was victorious in 2010 and 2014.
Gushue won Olympic gold in 2006 but has never won the Brier Tankard. This is his 13th career appearance at the national men's curling championship.
In the early game, Koe never trailed after opening the scoring with a pair in the second end.
"They executed perfectly," McEwen said. "They got their deuce and forced us. That's not a very good feeling when a team is playing well. We saw (Friday) night that Gushue overcame that so we knew there was a chance.
"But we needed some help on their part and we didn't get any."
Koe scored a single in the ninth and ran the Brier rookie out of rocks in the 10th for the win.
"You could have an amazing weekend and not win this," McEwen said. "We played really well and I'm still happy with being here on the weekend."
Announced attendance at TD Place was 8,424 for the afternoon game.
Pat Simmons defeated Jacobs in last year's Brier final in Calgary. Simmons missed the playoffs this year after settling for a fifth-place finish in the round-robin standings.
The Brier champion will represent Canada at the men's world curling championship next month in Basel, Switzerland. The victor will also qualify for this year's Canada Cup in Brandon, Man., the 2017 Continental Cup in Las Vegas and will return as Team Canada at next year's Brier in St. John's.
In women's play, Chelsea Carey won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in Grande Prairie, Alberta. She will wear the Maple Leaf at the upcoming women's world curling championship in Swift Current, Sask.
Jacobs and third Ryan Fry were named to the first all-star team during a break in the semifinal. Alberta second Brent Laing and Manitoba lead Denni Neufeld also took first-team honours.
Alberta lead Ben Hebert and Northern Ontario second E.J. Harnden were named to the second team along with Gushue and third Mark Nichols of Newfoundland and Labrador in voting by the Canadian Curling Reporters.
B.C. second Tyrel Griffith won the Ross Harstone Trophy for good sportsmanship. Winnipeg Free Press columnist Paul Wiecek was given the Paul McLean Award for his contribution to curling as a sports media member.