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Koe, Homan teams off to hot start at Home Hardware Canada Cup

Kevin Koe doesn’t look to see how the schedule shakes down opponent-wise prior to high-powered events like the Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing ,in Grande Prairie, Alta. There’s just too many good teams.

“We used to do that (look at opponents on their schedule). Now when you look at the schedule the depth is crazy,” said Koe, who lived in Grande Prairie for four years before moving to Calgary four years ago.

Well, on the first day he was crazy good. His Calgary-based team of third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert was the only one of eight men’s crews to go 2-0 the first day, beating two Olympic champions.

Koe defeated 2014 Olympic winner Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 7-6 in Wednesday’s evening draw to sit alone in first place. Earlier he downed Brad Gushue of St. John’s, the 2006 Olympic champ, 8-5.

“They are two great teams, but honestly there are eight great teams here. It’s good to beat them but if you don’t come out and follow it up tomorrow it’ll sting a little,” Koe said.

If Koe wins this weekend it will be a large step toward him being Canada’s representative in the 2018 Games because the winner gets a berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa.

“The Trials seem so far away. We expect to get there one way or another. But you can’t take anything for granted. I don’t think we’re putting any extra pressure on us just for that going into this,” said Koe.

Team Sweeting teammates, from left, Lori Olson-Johns, Rachelle Brown and Dana Ferguson take a break during their win on Wednesday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team Sweeting teammates, from left, Lori Olson-Johns, Rachelle Brown and Dana Ferguson take a break during their win on Wednesday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In other men’s games on Draw 3, Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg edged Gushue 5-4 while Mike McEwen, another Winnipegger, took out Toronto’s John Epping 9-6.

McEwen, Carruthers, Jacobs, Epping, Steve Laycock of Saskatoon and Pat Simmons of Calgary are all 1-1. Gushue is the only team at 0-2.

Ottawa’s Rachel Homan joined fellow Ontarian Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater atop the women’s standings at 2-0 after defeating five-time Canadian champion and reigning Olympic champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg 6-5.

Homan, supported by third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle, delivered a double takeout to score two in the 10th end for the team’s 22nd consecutive victory.

“Two-and-oh looks a lot better than one-and-one,” said a smiling Homan. “That was a tough game, a battle both ways – lots of big misses and lots of big shots, too. We’re thankful to get out of that with the win. It was a great team shot, my last one – a great line call by Emma and great sweeping by Lisa and Joanne not to listen to me. That was awesome.”

In earlier draws, Middaugh pulled off wins over Jones (7-2) and Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque (7-5). Rocque, Winnipeg’s Kristy McDonald and Val Sweeting of Edmonton are 1-1 while Jones and Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., are 0-2.

Sweeting, the defending Home Hardware Canada Cup champ, bounced back from a morning loss to Homan to defeat Fleury 8-6 Wednesday evening.

The men’s and women’s winners here will also qualify to play for Team North America at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas, Jan. 14-17.

The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws Thursday at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Click here for the complete schedule

The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.

For ticket information for the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, go to www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/tickets/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/?lang=fr