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Northern Ontario still unbeaten; Manitoba stuns Canada at Tim Hortons Brier

OTTAWA – Triples were the killer for Kevin Koe and Alberta in their 8-3 defeat Tuesday evening at the hands of Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario team, which is unbeaten through 10 draws at the Tim Hortons Brier.

A burnt rock in the third end and missed triples in the seventh and eighth ends swung the game between two former champions in Northern Ontario’s favour.

Koe made a triple kill with his final stone in the third, but in sweeping, second Brent Laing touched the running stone with his broom. That put Jacobs’ three stones back in the house and he had an open draw for the four.

“I touched the rock so it came off,” said a dejected Laing, whose broom touched the rock after he and Ben Hebert had banged brushes. “It was a huge turning point. Instead of 2-1 up, we’re down 4-2. Against a team like that you don’t get many chances and when you give them that, it’s pretty much ball game so that’s what happened.”

Jacobs said the situation, once the rock was touched, was out of their hands.

“We called in the official, asked him what to do and they made the call. We’ve been on their side of it,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate. It’s a huge break for us to have an open draw for four because he made the triple.”

Being unbeaten through seven games isn’t something Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Caleb Flaxey had thought much about, but they’ll certainly take it and enjoy the run while it lasts.

“This was the goal, you try to win every game,” said Jacobs. “Did I think this would happen? It wasn’t even something our team considered. It’s great to have six wins right now. It would be great to have seven or eight or nine but obviously we’re very happy with where we are.”

Manitoba skip Mike McEwen wasn't doing a jig; he was trying to get his sweepers' attention during Tuesday night's win over Team Canada. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Manitoba skip Mike McEwen wasn’t doing a jig; he was trying to get his sweepers’ attention during Tuesday night’s win over Team Canada. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In the seventh, trailing 6-3, Koe tried another triple that could given him a deuce and kept him in the game. This time his shot was off target, getting just two Jacobs stones and leaving Northern Ontario a steal of one. He had another shot at a triple in the eighth that could have given Alberta two, but this one also got only two and left Jacobs with another steal and the victory.

One sheet over, Pat Simmons and his Team Canada (4-3) defending champions from Calgary were well on their way to continuing their turn-around from two-loss Monday with their second win of the day, until the ninth end of their game with Brier rookie Mike McEwen of Manitoba (4-2; Winnipeg).

In a stunning turn-around, Manitoba jumped on some costly and uncharacteristic Canada misses to score four and take a 6-4 win that keeps the McEwen crew very much alive.

“It’s pretty shocking. You don’t expect to get those misses out of those teams in that situation,” said Manitoba vice-skip B.J. Neufeld. “But we got a couple off ones from them and we were able to capitalize. Made a couple of really good shots to put more pressure on them. It’s shocking but that’s why you hang in there.

“That’s a game, we win, it puts us in a really good spot. We lose it’s not dire straits yet, but would have put us a little bit behind the 8-ball, so it’s a massive win.”

Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec scored three in the ninth end and his Saint-Romuald team knocked off Glenn Howard of Ontario (3-4; Etobicoke) to even its record at 3-3.

Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (Grand Falls) gave up three in the ninth but got one in the 10th to beat Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan (3-4; Saskatoon) for their second win in six games.

Not playing in the evening draw were Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (5-1; St. John’s), Jim Cotter of B.C. (2-4; Vernon-Kelowna), Adam Casey of P.E.I. (1-5; Charlottetown-Summerside) and Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (1-5; Yellowknife).

Wednesday’s draws are at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 and 7:30 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.