OTTAWA – Kevin Koe made all the shots he had to while Mike McEwen had some early struggles and that was more than enough for Alberta to take a 7-5 victory over Manitoba in the Tim Hortons Brier Page 3-4 playoff game Saturday.
McEwen and his Brier rookie team will play in Sunday’s bronze-medal game against the loser of tonight’s semifinal between Koe and Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario. The Sault Ste. Marie team beat Alberta in the round-robin, scoring four in the third end thanks to a burned rock by Alberta en route to an 8-3 win.
The semifinal winner will play Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador in Sunday’s championship game
Sunday’s bronze-medal game is at 2:30 p.m. (all times ET) with the gold-medal match at 7:30 p.m.
“They played pretty much a perfect game,” McEwen said of Koe’s team after its clinical victory. “They executed perfectly. They got their deuce and forced us and that’s not a very good feeling when a team is playing well. We got one miss out of him the entire game.”
Koe, third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Scott Pfeifer and coach John Dunn scored deuces in the second and fourth end to take control of the game and rarely gave McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and alternate Jon Mead opportunities to get back into the game.
“Mike had just little misses, a little off when we got those deuces and that’s all it takes sometimes,” said Koe. “After that we controlled the game. Any time you can get up two, its tough to come back.”
Koe had a slim chance at four in the second end. He tried a tight double to get two Manitoba stones out of a cluster in the back of the rings. He got one but the second jammed and Alberta settled for a deuce.
“I would have changed a shot call in the second end,” McEwen said of his team putting themselves into the jam. “I got caught playing around the corner, didn’t quite make everything perfect and got down two. After that he just, you know, every time we got a little bit something going, he just made everything perfect.”
After Manitoba took one in the third, McEwen rubbed a guard in the fourth trying for a hit-and-stick, leaving Koe a draw to sit three. McEwen made a wide double leaving Koe another draw for two and a 4-1 margin.
The Manitoba skip tried a risky raise double to get two in the fifth but was just wide and instead let Alberta steal a single. McEwen had another deuce possibility in six but jammed one Alberta stone onto his own, taking it out and leaving Manitoba with just another single.
It wasn’t until the eighth end, after Alberta had scored one in seven for a 6-2 lead that Koe made his first real miss of the game. Trying to punch a McEwen counter sideways out of the four-foot, the veteran Alberta skip was wide and left McEwen an easy draw for two.
It gave Manitoba hope, but it was faint and Koe ended it with a last-rock double for a single in nine and a three-point margin going into the final end.
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
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.