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Just two teams unbeaten after two days at the Tim Hortons Brier

ST. JOHN’S – After just two days of play there’s only two unbeaten teams at the Tim Hortons Brier, and not surprisingly, one of those is Kevin Koe and Team Canada.

Koe and his Calgary-based defending champions had a struggle, however, against Glenn Howard of Ontario (1-2; Etobicoke) and needed a clutch last-stone shot by Koe to get a 5-4 win.

Mike McEwen of Manitoba (3-0: Winnipeg) is the other unbeaten team after posting two wins Sunday, including a comfortable 6-2 victory over Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (0-3; Yellowknife) in the evening draw.

Ontario skip Glenn Howard uses some body language to get his rock where he wants it. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Even though a win was in doubt until their final stone, Team Canada third Marc Kennedy said he, second Brent Laing, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Scott Pfeifer and coach John Dunn were confident.

“When you’re got Kevin Koe throwing the last one it’s easy to be comfortable,” Kennedy said after Koe made the clutch tap back through a tight port to score two for the win. “He’s playing good, throwing good. Ben said after the ninth, let’s just give Kev a shot to win.

“A pretty good character-building for our team. Wasn’t our best game but we hung in there, rode a hot skip and it worked out for us.”

Kennedy said he’s ecstatic to be 3-0 after playing some great teams early.

“We would be very happy to be 3-0 with the quality of teams we played. We’ve gotten a few breaks, haven’t won a hammer yet and won three games so great start for us. Wouldn’t be surprised if there’s seven teams at 7-4 it’s that good of a field.”

McEwen, who beat hometown favourite Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (2-1; St. John’s) in the morning draw, had an easier evening game. He and third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and coach Chris Neufeld scored deuces in the second and sixth ends and cruised to the win.

“Definitely the start we wanted,” said B.J. “Of the three games we had Brad (Gushue) there in the middle. We knew if we could win that we would put ourselves in really good shape so we’re happy where we are.

Manitoba skip Mike McEwen calls instructions to sweepers as Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe looks on. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We got a good blank in the first end, a deuce in the second and kind of away we go. We made everything that we were supposed to make and a couple of difficult ones as well. So it ended up being a fairly simple game for us.”

Gushue bounced back from his morning loss to nip New Brunswick 5-4 in the evening.

Jamie Murphy of Nova Scotia (2-1; Halifax), who got into the main draw via the pre-qualifying route, looked like he may remain among the unbeaten until disaster struck in the sixth and seventh ends.

Up 5-3 on Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (1-2; Lévis), Murphy’s crew suddenly made a series of near, but extremely costly misses that allowed Quebec to score two in the sixth and steal three in the seventh for a10-6 win.

Chasing Team Canada and Manitoba are four teams at 2-1 – Nova Scotia, Northern Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland-Labrador Draws – and four more at 1-2: New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. Northwest Territories and Alberta are 0-3.

Draws on Monday are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times NST).

For ticket and other event information, http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/draw/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.