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Saskatchewan, Alberta get vital wins at Tim Hortons Brier

OTTAWA – Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan kept himself in the thick of the chase Sunday afternoon with a vital 8-4 win over Jim Cotter of B.C. at the Tim Hortons Brier.

In a field filled with Olympic, world and Brier champions, starting at 0-3 at TD Place could be disastrous and Laycock just avoided that.

His Saskatoon team of third Kirk Muyres, second Colton Flasch, lead Dallan Muyres, alternate Gerry Adam and coach Lyle Muyres had lost its first two games and were in tough against Cotter and his Vernon-Kelowna (1-1) team until the seventh end.

That’s when Laycock made a last-rock angled raise punch out of a B.C. stone stuck in the middle of three Saskatchewan rocks to count four and roll on to victory.

“We were playing it where if I hit it within the right range we were getting two for sure,” he said of the shot. “The four was obviously a little lucky.”

As Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (1-1; St. John’s) said after his 11-end, 4-3 loss to Glenn Howard of Ontario (Etobicoke 2-1), luck could play a big part in the outcome of a lot of games this week.

What was important to Laycock was the win that prevented his team from digging a hole it might not be able to climb out of.

“They’re all important at this point,” he said of getting a win. “Especially with the 0-2 start. We played a couple of pretty good games, but against some hot teams. To go 0-3 and playing Gushue in the morning would not have been a lot of fun.”

Alberta skip Kevin Koe watches his shot as P.E.I. lead Robbie Doherty peers over his shoulder. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Alberta skip Kevin Koe watches his shot as P.E.I. lead Robbie Doherty peers over his shoulder. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Two-time champion Kevin Koe of Alberta (2-1; Calgary) was in the thick of a tight battle with Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island (0-2; Charlottetown/Summerside) until getting five in the eighth end for a 10-4 victory. After losing an 11-end, 5-4 game to Howard on Saturday, Koe’s team bounced back with two wins Sunday, beating New Brunswick 10-4 in the morning draw.

“We did a good job of controlling the scoreboard,” Alberta third Marc Kennedy said of his team’s afternoon win. “That’s a pretty good young team. Adam made some great shots today, but we hung in there, Kevin made a couple of good ones late and that’s all you need.”

Kennedy, who played for years with Olympic, world and Brier champion Kevin Martin, was scored at a perfect 100 per cent for the game.

“I felt good out there,” was all he said about his shooting. “Trying to make it easy on our skipper. He’s had a great season so far and looks like he’s throwing it well again.”

But, he cautioned, there’s no reason to get too excited about the win this early in the week.

“The Brier’s a marathon so you can’t get too low after a loss or two high after a win like this. You have to stay an even keel and see what happens. We know we have the heat of the lineup coming up the next few days.”

In the other afternoon game, Team Canada’s Pat Simmons (3-0; Calgary) stole a first-end deuce and sailed to a 6-3 triumph over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories

Afternoon byes went to Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (1-1; Grand Falls), Mike McEwen of Manitoba (1-1; Winnipeg), Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec (0-2; Saint-Romuald) and Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario (2-0; Sault Ste. Marie).

The evening draw begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at

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