What a difference a year makes. A matter of 365 days ago, at London’s Tim Hortons Brier, the bronze-medal playoff game was one that nobody wanted to play. Not Brad Gushue the winner. And definitely not Kevin Martin, the loser.
But there was no such unwillingness on Sunday morning at the Credit Union Centre.
Both teams — the Territories and Manitoba — expressed a strong interest in heading home from the 83rd Brier, not with fourth place but with a tertiary finish and a medal. And that interest showed.
At the end of a well-played match, Manitoba’s Rob Fowler of Brandon emerged an 8-7 victor against Jamie Koe of the Territories with an open draw to the four-foot in an extra end.
It was see-saw all the way with spectacular shots accentuating the action. From the moment Manitoba was forced to accept a single with last rock in the first end, control changed hands no less than five times.
“We got a prize there that money can’t buy,” said Fowler, whose team of Allan Lyburn, Richard Daneault and Derek Samagalski won $30,000 for the victory.
“To go home without a medal considering the week we had here would have been disappointing. Money comes and goes but we’ll have that bronze medal forever.
“Sure that game meant something to us. I think it speaks to our team. We handled ourselves in a classy manner all week and today was no different.
“We get to go home and celebrate this. In some ways, maybe a bronze is more enjoyable than a silver because we can kick back now and enjoy the day and know we finished this off with a win.”
The Buffalo boys had an edge in percentage shooting but Territories skip Jamie Koe, as has been his wont in recent games, kept his Yellowknifers in it with a spectacular array of shots.(Continued Below…)
Bronze Medal Photos
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“It was an unbelievble game,” said Fowler. “Wow!. I mean, one end there Jamie made a 20-foot runback to put us in all kinds of trouble. We managed to worm out of that. It was just shot for shot.”
And very few back-end misses. Fowler carded 90 per cent, Koe 84.
“We proved we can play well, be in contention and compete at this level,” said the Yellowknife skip.
“I thought we had a pretty good game yesterday with the exception of one end and we had a pretty good game today. A couple of breaks here and there made the difference.
“It’s pretty satisfying. This is the one event we look forward to all year. Playdowns and this. It’s our focus. (Continued below…)
“We think we deserved to be here. We were one of the better teams all week and we really proved ourselves.”
Koe, who rarely smiles, flashed his widest of the week in the seventh end when he executed a triple-kill that eventually held his foe to a single point.
“That was because I didn’t throw that very good and still got the triple,” he said. “I came way outside centre and then I just kind of dumped it back in.”
The Territories took home $20,000 in prize money.
“It’s an awesome experience, playing in a playoff game with the crowd and the TV,” said Koe, who directed Tom Naugler, Brad Chorostkowski and Robert Borden. “We really enjoyed it, tried to have a fun time out there. It was a great learning experience for us.”
Fowler, who defeated defending world champion Jeff Stoughton to reach the Brier, termed the event “awesome”.
“That’s going to be the goal every winter — to come to the Brier,” he said.
“Money can’t buy a Purple Heart. You can go and win lots of money on the tour but at the end of the day our team, as long as I’m involved, is going to be focused on coming to the Brier.”