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Territories stun hometown favourites at Tim Hortons Brier

ST. JOHN’S — Jamie Koe’s Northwest Territories team had every excuse to mail it in on Tuesday morning at the Tim Hortons Brier.

But even despite struggling with an 0-4 record and facing the overwhelming crowd favourites at Mile One Centre — Brad Gushue’s Newfoundland/Labrador side — Koe’s Yellowknife squad delivered its finest effort to date at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier, downing the home team 8-4 to pick up its first victory, and hand Newfoundland/Labrador its second loss in five outings.

Jamie Koe’s Northwest Territories team picked up its first win of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier on Tuesday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We were 0-4 and not playing too well, but we came out today, got some good breaks and the Newfoundland boys were a little off,” said Koe, who along with vice-skip Chris Schille, second Brad Chorostkowski, lead Robert Borden, alternate Greg Skauge and coach Terry Shea, put the game away with a steal of three in the 10th end to subdue the Mile One crowd. “We took advantage and got a good win. It’s huge for us; hopefully we can build off that and keep ’er going.”

Gushue, meanwhile, knows his team has to regroup in time for a showdown with Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs (4-1; Sault Ste. Marie) at 8 p.m. (all times NST) Tuesday in a showdown of Olympic gold-medallists.

“Basically every end, I felt like we were chasing right from the get-go and just couldn’t out any pressure on them,” said Gushue. “Their team played well, you have to give them credit, but we were nowhere near where we’re capable of playing. So we have to figure that out because we have a big game tonight.”

It was a struggling victory for Manitoba’s Mike McEwen. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In other action, Manitoba’s Mike McEwen (Winnipeg) preserved his perfect record with a come-from-behind 9-7 win over New Brunswick’s Mike Kennedy (1-4; Fredericton). McEwen, down 7-3 through seven ends, improved to 5-0 by scoring two in the eighth end and then stealing deuces in the ninth and 10th ends thanks to last-rock misses by Kennedy, who was staring at nothing but trouble in both ends thanks to earlier miscues.

“You’re probably going to have an ugly victory here or there,” said McEwen. “And that was about as ugly as you want to get. I didn’t want to do this interview; I felt kind of sheepish. But we’ll take it. That’s about as bad as we can play and we got fortunate. Sometimes you need something like that to happen during a long week.”

In the other morning games, Team Canada’s Kevin Koe (4-1; Calgary) was an 8-5 winner over Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy (2-3; Halifax) while Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (3-2; Lévis) won his third straight, downing Ontario’s Glenn Howard (1-4; Etobicoke) 7-6 in an extra end.

Northern Ontario, B.C.’s John Morris (3-2; Vernon/Kelowna), Saskatchewan’s Adam Casey (2-3; Regina) and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (1-4; Edmonton) all had byes on Tuesday morning.

Action at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier continues on Sunday, with draws scheduled for 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times NST).

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

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

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at 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.