Epping knocks Koe from ranks of undefeated at Home Hardware Canada Cup

And then there were none. No teams are undefeated and no teams are winless in the men’s draw at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing. Toronto’s John Epping knocked off the previously unbeaten Kevin Koe squad from Calgary with a 9-5 win in Thursday afternoon’s Draw 5 at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta. Koe needed a difficult triple takeout with his last shot to have any hope of tying the game at 7-7 but instead gave up two. Epping did himself and six other men’s teams a favour by knocking off Koe, who, despite the loss, remained at the top of the standings at 3-1. “We played pretty good,” said Epping, who along with third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March improved to 2-1. “We played a good last few ends [but it was] a little scary at the end there. Probably too many rocks in play in the 10th but in the end we ended up with the W which is good.” At the other end of the standings, Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Nfld., the 2006 Olympic champion, finally hit the win
Brad Gushue, right, and Mark Nichols ponder their options during Thursday's win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Brad Gushue, right, and Mark Nichols ponder their options during Thursday’s win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

column by edging Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 6-5. It was the first victory in three games for Gushue, who has Mark Nichols playing third, second Brent Gallant and Geoff Walker, who grew up in nearby Beaverlodge, Alta., at lead. “Definitely we didn’t want to start 0-3. Yesterday (Wednesday) was a tough day. We didn’t play real bad. We played against two teams (Koe and Brad Jacobs) that played really well,” said Gushue, who utilized his hammer to get the winning point in the 10th end, following an eighth-end deuce that was set up by a brilliant raise double-takeout by Nichols. “Even today, Mike’s team played really well. Unfortunately we played a little better and made the right shots at the right time today.” Gushue insisted his team didn’t feel pressure coming into the Home Hardware Canada Cup despite being the best team on the cash circuit so far this season, winning six events. “We’ve had some good runs in the Canada Cup although it’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a good run at the Canada Cup,” he said. “We just tried to come in here and have fun and keep playing the way we’ve been playing. We know that all of a sudden teams are going to be gunning for us because were tops on the [Canadian Team Ranking System) but that’s fine, that’s where you want to be.” Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic champion and 2013 Tim Hortons Brier champion, kept himself in the hunt with a 7-2 victory over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock. With the win, Jacobs improved to 2-1 heading into his evening draw against Epping. Laycock falls to 1-3 heading into Friday’s action. “That was a real solid performance as a team,” said Jacobs, who is backed up by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden. “It really feels good to play collectively like that as a team. “It feels really good to take advantage of our opportunities.” Jacobs feels the squad is maturing as a team since winning in Sochi. “The last few years we’ve grown as a team. You recognize opportunities as a team right now. These guys help me out to read the ice. Collectively as a team we’re almost like four skips.” Pat Simmons of Calgary also improved to 2-1 by drawing for two in the 10th end for a 5-4 win over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers (1-3). Ottawa-based Rachel Homan (4-0) remains alone on top of the women’s standings after dismantling Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque 9-2. Homan’s crew easily extended its win streak to 24 games, taking a 6-0 lead after only three ends. They have not lost since Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10), a 7-3 setback to Switzerland’s Michèle Jäggi Although Homan’s team is young with Weagle being 30 and the others 26, they’re all older than the Rocque squad (1-2), with the skip being the youngest (21) in the entire Home Hardware Canada Cup. It was the only game on the women’s side in Draw 5. The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with another draw today at 6:30 p.m. (all times MST). TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Click here for the complete schedule The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists. For ticket information for the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, go to www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/tickets/ This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/?lang=fr