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Measurement gives Alberta semifinal win over Northern Ontario

OTTAWA – It took 10 nail-biting ends and a measurement on the winning point for Kevin Koe of Alberta to get by Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario 6-5 in the Tim Hortons Brier semifinal Saturday evening.

Alberta had a stone that neither team was overly confident was a biter, but a measurement showed it was for second shot, giving Alberta the only deuce of the game, in the 10th end, and the victory.

Koe, third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Scott Pfeifer and coach John Dunn will play Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador in Sunday’s championship game. Gushue advanced to the final on Friday by beating Jacobs 7-6 in 11 ends in the Page 1-2 game.

Jacobs will play Mike McEwen of Manitoba for the bronze medal. McEwen lost to Koe, 7-5, in Saturday’s Page 3-4 game. The bronze-medal game goes Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with the championship game at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“We got some nice breaks, nice misses (by Northern Ontario) early in the game,” said Kennedy. “We could have been out of that pretty early, so we felt lucky to be in the game and have that opportunity. We’re lucky and we’re very grateful to have the opportunity (Sunday).

Jacobs (his team is rounded out by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Caleb Flaxey) made a superb hit and roll with his final shot in 10 but he left just a sliver of his rock peeking out from behind the guard and that’s all Koe needed to pick it out. Then it was the measurement for the win.

“We had one shot left, we had to roll another couple of inches,” a dejected Jacobs said of his final shot. “For the game to come down to a measurement, that’s just kind of the way it went for us. Everything was just barely missed. They got the good breaks and they hung in, curled really well. We curled well enough to win, but a few of my shots were missed and as a result we couldn’t pull it out.

“It just hurts right now. It was in our own hands. We could have won this thing, but it wasn’t meant to be this time.”

Northern Ontario skip Brad Jacobs, right, encourages sweepers Ryan Harnden, left, and E.J. Harnden. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Northern Ontario skip Brad Jacobs, right, encourages sweepers Ryan Harnden, left, and E.J. Harnden. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Koe said he was fairly confident the biter was in because they had a measurement in nine that he thought was out and it was in “so that helped, but you never want to count on a measure for the extra point.

“Brad had a couple of uncharacteristic misses and let us off the hook (early). But when we had the chance we seized it and we’re moving on.”

Through nine nail-biting ends the two teams traded shot for shot, miss for miss and point for point. Both teams had chances for multi-point ends but neither could out-manoeuvre the other to get the bonus points until the 10th.

The tone for the game was set in the first two ends when the teams traded singles. Alberta forced Jacobs to draw versus five to get his single. Koe tried a double takeout in the second that could have given him a deuce but got a jam and settled for one also.

A lovely hit and roll behind cover by Fry resulted in a Northern Ontario single in the third and Koe had to come through a narrow port on a hit-and-stick to get one and prevent Jacobs from a steal of two.

That was pretty much the scenario the whole game, chances created, but opportunities missed.

Koe was in trouble in the fifth when his attempted triple left Northern Ontario sitting three around the edges of the eight-foot. But the Calgary skip calmed executed a perfect hit and roll to freeze, forcing Jacobs to make a hit-and-stick for a single.

The best chance for a deuce came in the seventh. Koe’s tapback didn’t work, leaving Northern Ontario as shot. But Jacob’s draw to bite the button was heavy and he again settled for one.

“Just missed some opportunities,” said Jacobs. “We had a couple of good chances for twos, I think three really good chances and we didn’t make them. It’s on me in a lot of ways and it sucks.”

The winner of the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier not only will represent Canada at the 2016 World Men’s Championship, April 2-10 in Basel, Switzerland, it will also earn berths in the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup in Brandon, Man.; the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas, and the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s.

Additionally, should the Tim Hortons Brier winner earn a medal at the worlds in Switzerland, it will also qualify for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa — the event that will decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea

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.