Teams faced off in last year’s title match
Kevin Koe has a chance to wear the Team Canada jersey for another year at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Local favourite Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador and a raucous sellout crowd are the only things standing in his way.
Koe set up a rematch of last year’s Brier final with a 7-6 victory over Manitoba’s Mike McEwen in Saturday night’s semifinal. McEwen missed a double runback attempt to give Koe a single point in the extra end.
“We made some huge shots coming down and we snuck her out,” Koe said.
Gushue advanced straight to the final on Friday night with his victory over McEwen in the Page playoff 1-2 game.
Koe beat Gushue in last year’s final at Ottawa and went on to win the world championship. Gushue, who is making his 14th career Brier appearance, also made the final in 2007 but lost to Ontario’s Glenn Howard.
‘We’ll be ready’
“Obviously it’ll be another level [Sunday], it’ll be way louder,” Koe said. “But we’re a pretty experienced team and we had a good game with Brad on Thursday night. So we’ll be ready.”
Gushue defeated Koe 7-6 in round-robin play.
Koe opened the scoring against Manitoba with a single in the third end but missed both of his shots in the fourth to leave McEwen an open draw for three. The Manitoba skip added a deuce in the sixth with a double takeout and appeared to be in control of the game.
However, Koe was forced to draw for one in the seventh and stole a single in the eighth. McEwen scored one in the ninth and Koe forced an extra end with a double takeout for a deuce.
“We put the pressure on him and we were fortunate to get a couple misses,” Koe said.
A Manitoba stone rolled to the back button in the extra end, forcing McEwen to play more aggressively. He was light with his throw to the top button, giving Koe a second guard to draw around.
Koe responded with a freeze for shot stone and McEwen, forced into a difficult double runback, was wide with his final rock.
“I guess we tried to do too much,” McEwen said. “We had a rock roll to just a horrendous place and that was our undoing.”
Earlier in the day, Koe defeated Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs 6-2 in the Page playoff 3-4 game at Mile One Centre.
Koe scored a single in the eighth end and put the game out of reach with a deuce in the ninth. He shot 89 per cent on the day while Jacobs was well back at 74 per cent.
“Just on the wrong side of the inch on a few of my shots,” Jacobs said. “We narrowly missed some good opportunities and you’ve got to take advantage of stuff like that if you want to win the Brier, not miss them. That’s how the game went for us.”
Koe started the game with hammer and scored a pair of singles. The game was delayed for 66 minutes after the third end due to a power outage.
“It had no effect on us,” Jacobs said. “We were already behind the eight ball at that point.”
When play resumed, the teams blanked another end before Koe added a single in the fifth. Jacobs got on the scoreboard with a deuce in the sixth end but that was all the offence he could muster.
Jacobs, the reigning Olympic champion, will settle for an appearance in the bronze-medal game Sunday afternoon against McEwen.
Even though there are ranking points and cash on the line, he admitted it would be “very difficult” to get up for the third-place game.
“You come here to win the tankard,” Jacobs said. “We were the fourth [seed] leading into the playoffs. I feel like we’ve finished in fourth place.”