Team Ontario knocks Northern Ontario from ranks of unbeaten at Tim Hortons Brier

BRANDON, Man. – Thursday afternoon Brad Jacobs said he wouldn’t mind a little adversity at the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, for his red-hot Team Northern Ontario that was cruising along with an 8-0 record.

Thursday evening he got a whole dish of it, courtesy of provincial counterparts, Scott McDonald and Team Ontario (6-3, Kingston) who knocked Jacobs from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 7-6, extra-end victory.

For the first time all week Jacobs and his teammates — third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Adam Kingsbury — couldn’t take advantage of the first-end hammer, giving up a steal of two followed by a steal of one in the second.

“What are you going to do? They played great, I was awful, couldn’t buy a shot the first half of the game, in all honesty,” said Jacobs. “It’s good to come back a bit and feel human again.”

McDonald, third Jonathan Beuk, second Wesley Forget, lead Scott Chadwick, alternate Jeff Grant and coach Sean Turriff, gave up single steals in the seventh and eighth ends and two in the 10th that forced the extra end. McDonald made a final rock draw for the win.

“We’re hitting our groove,” said McDonald. “We’ve been playing pretty well all week. We got a couple of breaks early in the game. We made Brad make a real tough one in one in a new spot and that kind of set the tone for the game. We were always able to control the scoreboard and that helped us later in the game.”

Despite the loss Jacobs said his team is still in a good position to move into the weekend playoffs and even grab a spot in the Page 1-2 game.

“Losing right now is exactly what we needed,” he said. “You hate to lose, but sometimes when you reflect on a game like that and the way things have been going all week, losing a game right now is not a bad thing for us. It’s something that’ll help us moving forward.”

Moving forward still unbeaten is Kevin Koe and Team Alberta (9-0, Calgary) who survived a scare from Mike McEwen and Team Manitoba (4-5, West St. Paul) to score two in the 10th end for a hard-fought 6-5 win.

Koe, who won earlier in the day on another of his last-rock heroics, had an easier one against Manitoba, a delicate tap-back inside the four-foot.

“I’m really happy with that win,” Koe said. “After we gave up the deuce in seven (to trail 4-2) we needed a lot of shots to be perfect, and crucial ones, and we made just about them all. When we needed it at the end, we made it.”

Alberta skip Kevin Koe directs traffic during Thursday night’s victory. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

He got a lot of help in the eight from Ben Hebert and Colton Flasch, who swept their arms off to carry Koe’s final stone to second shot to score two.

“That was huge, to tie it up there,” said Koe. “And somehow we got a force in nine, made a couple of real good ones at the end. And then we made the ones we needed in 10.”

Two-time defending champion Brad Gushue and Team Canada (8-1) scored deuces in the seventh and ninth ends to beat Kirk Muyres and Team Saskatchewan (4-5, Saskatoon) 8-4, and Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card (7-2, Edmonton) continued their drive for a playoff berth with an 8-3 win over Jim Cotter and Team British Columbia (4-5, Vernon).

There are two more draws Friday after which the top four teams — barring tiebreakers — will move into the Page Playoffs Saturday and Sunday.

The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draw Fridau at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times CST).

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2019brier/tickets.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019brier/?lang=fr