Alberta into Tim Hortons Brier final after decisive win over Northern Ontario

BRANDON, Man. – Kevin Koe will go for his fourth Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, championship Sunday after a surprisingly easy 9-4 win over Brad Jacobs and Team Northern Ontario in Saturday’s Page playoff 1-2 game.

Koe and his Calgary-based Team Alberta crew scored two in the first end, stole three in the second and cruised to the decisive victory that moves them directly to Sunday’s 7 p.m. (all times Central) championship game.

Jacobs and his team will now play the semifinal Sunday at 1 p.m. against Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card. Bottcher and his foursome from Edmonton earned their semifinal berth with a 7-2 win over defending two-time champion Brad Gushue and Team Canada in the Page 3-4 playoff game earlier in the day.

“These chances don’t come too often,” Koe said of his chance for a fourth title that would put him in a tie for most wins by a skip with Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey and Ernie Richardson.

“For me and Ben (Hebert) we would love to win another, but it would be nice to win for our teammates, they’ve never done it.”

Koe, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Hebert, alternate Ted Appelman and coach John Dunn, have won 12 straight games. A victory Sunday would tie the Tim Hortons Brier record at 13-0 set by Ferbey and Martin (twice).

Their first-end deuce was set up by Flasch’s double takeout that kicked out two Northern Ontario counters inside the four-foot. In the second, Koe made an in-off to sit four and Jacobs’ final stone rubbed on a rock in the eight foot.

Northern Ontario skip Brad Jacobs watches his team’s shot, with Kevin Koe looking over his shoulder. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We played a good first end, got a couple of misses to get up by two,” said Koe. “The second end was a bit of a funny end. Neither team knew if they were sitting good or in trouble. I made a good one on my first and then Brad missed and he was in big trouble, just missed his last shot. Just one of those big ends.”

It was two ends Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Adam Kingsbury couldn’t recover from.

“That loss, that’s all on me, that’s on my shoulders,” said Jacobs, who was shooting just 38 per cent after four ends and finished at 56 per cent compared to 94 per cent for Koe. “The boys played great in front of me. I told them I will be better tomorrow, and that’s the plan. I think I skipped us into questionable situations and then didn’t get results.”

His teammates were sharp – Ryan Harnden shot 92 per cent, E.J. Harnden 89 and Fry 92, all better than the percentages of their counterparts on Koe’s team.

But each time they tried to get a big end set up, Koe would make a shot to eliminate the danger.

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

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