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Northern Ontario gets extra-end win over Saskatchewan

OTTAWA – Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan came up short with his last-rock draw in the 11th end Saturday, allowing Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario to take a 6-5 win without having to throw his final stone.

Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic gold-medallist, lost only one game in last year’s Tim Hortons Brier round-robin and his team showed it’s prepared to take on this star-studded field.

“We were a little nervous to start that game off,” Jacobs said. “We gave up an early steal, but once we settled in everyone was throwing the rock pretty good.

“There’s a little room for improvement, but for the first game overall as a team we can be satisfied with our effort and hopefully we can get a little sharper with each game.”

Jacobs scored two in the third end and got a great sweeping job from E.J. and Ryan Harnden to draw the full four-foot for two more in the sixth.

A tight double takeout by third Ryan Fry temporarily got the Sault Ste. Marie team out of a potentially tough spot in eight, but Laycock made a perfect draw to the button to get two and tie the game at 4-4. The Saskatoon skip made another draw in 10 to force the extra end.

Meanwhile, Jim Cotter of British Columbia (Vernon/Kelowna) got a pair in the second, stole one in three and posted three in the seventh to roll past Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown/Summerside) 8-4.

Cotter said lead Rick Sawatsky was the key to the seventh-end success.

“Swats played a phenomenal all game. He got two (stones) in there real good, made it tough on them and they just didn’t get the positioning of their rocks. It opened the door for us and we were able to get the three.”

Cotter was happy with the way his team communicated all game.

New Brunswick skip Mike Kennedy calls instructions to his sweepers during Saturday's win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

New Brunswick skip Mike Kennedy calls instructions to his sweepers during Saturday’s win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We were talking lots, lots of communication. We were all dialled in in a lot of areas and that’s a key component with our team, talking lots and making sure everyone’s all on the same page.”

Jamie Koe and his Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) team, playing their fifth game in slightly more than 48 hours, fell 7-6 in 11 ends to Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (Grand Falls).

Kennedy scored deuces in the third and fifth ends while Koe’s tries for deuces into crowded houses in the sixth and seventh ends resulted in a steal for New Brunswick in six followed by a single for Koe. But the Northerners did get a deuce in nine and a steal in 10 to force the extra end.

In earlier games Saturday, Glenn Howard of Ontario (Etobicoke) beat Kevin Koe of Alberta (Calgary) 5-4, Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (St. John’s) edged Mike McEwen of Manitoba (Winnipeg) 5-4, Jamie Koe beat James Murphy of Nova Scotia (Halifax) 7-4 in the pre-qualifying play-in game and Pat Simmons and Team Canada (Calgary) opened defence of their title with a 7-3 win over Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec (Saint-Romuald)

There are three draws Sunday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET.

For ticket and other event information, http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/tickets/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/draw/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016brier/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier