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Koe win puts Alberta in good position at Tim Hortons Brier

OTTAWA – Former champion Kevin Koe of Alberta bounced back from a disappointing Tuesday with two wins Wednesday to put himself and his teammates in good position heading into their final day of round-robin play at the Tim Hortons Brier. But it hasn’t been as easy as their 9-4 win over Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec would suggest.

“Man this is hard,” Alberta third Marc Kennedy said after they improved to 6-3. “You can’t miss much in this field. Overall we’re throwing the rock well, we all feel good, we’re confident, now we just need to make a couple of big shots and catch a couple breaks and who knows. We’re trying to get to seven wins as quickly as possible and we put ourselves in good position.”

Koe, Kennedy, second Brent Laing, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Scott Pfeifer and coach John Dunn play Team Canada Thursday morning and Saskatchewan in the evening. Then they may have to sit and watch the final draw Friday morning to learn their fate.

“But 6-3, if you had asked us before the event if we’re happy at 6-3 going into the last day I think we would say yes,” said Kennedy. “Last year I think we were 4-5 going into the last day so that was disappointing. This shows we’ve grown as a team and gotten better.”

Alberta scored deuces in the first and fifth ends and finished the game with four in the eighth when Koe made a hit-and-stick after Ménard rolled too far on his attempted hit-and-stick one shot earlier.

In a clash of the two Ontario teams, veteran Glenn Howard (3-5; Etobicoke) had the upper hand early but Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario (7-0; Sault Ste. Marie), as they have done all week, kept the pressure on until they got a break and capitalized for a 6-4 win. Howard missed on a raise double try in the eighth, leaving Jacobs a draw for three and the Ontario skip wrecked on a guard in the 10th when he was trying to draw for a tie.

Jacobs had made a perfect draw to the button behind cover with his final rock to put the pressure on Howard with his last rock.

“Most guys would feel the pinch on a shot like that, but Brad laid it down and got us a win,” said third Ryan Fry.

Northern Ontario sweeps their final rock of the 10th end to the top four. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns Photo)

Northern Ontario sweeps their final rock of the 10th end to the top four. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns Photo)

“We try to give it as much as we can, give it every shot and good things happen at times,” Fry said of the team’s ability to apply pressure all game. “We played pretty well and good things happened at the end.

“The pressure of having to perform on national TV in front of 8,000 people, do or die in some instances, it’s always there and the more times you put yourself in that situation the more adjusted you are and the easier it is for you.”

Pat Simmons and Team Canada (5-4; Calgary) had another struggle, but scored three in the 10th end to finally get by Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (2-5; Grand Falls) to keep their slim playoffs hope alive. Mike McEwan of Manitoba (5-2; Winnipeg) jumped into a 3-0 lead after two ends, but needed a single in the 10th to beat Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan (4-5; Saskatoon).

The afternoon byes went to Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (6-1; St. John’s), Jim Cotter of British Columbia (2-5; Vernon-Kelowna), Adam Casey of Prince Edward Island (1-6; Charlottetown-Summerside) and Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (1-6; Yellowknife).

Wednesday’s evening draw goes at 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.