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Koe remains unbeaten with last-rock win over Gushue at Tim Hortons Brier

BRANDON, Man. – Kevin Koe of Team Alberta (4-0, Calgary) executed a nearly-perfect angle raise takeout with last rock to score two in the tenth end and sneak past Brad Gushue and Team Canada (3-1, St. John’s, N.L.) 7-6 in a battle of heavyweights at the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, Monday evening.

Trailing by one, Koe had given Gushue a chance to escape with a win by giving the defending two-time Tim Hortons Brier champion a superb freeze onto Team Alberta’s counter. That left Koe a try at an angle raise.

“That’s a shot I’m pretty good at normally and I played quite a few that game so I expected to be close,” the unflappable Koe said. “The boys swept it good and we just made it.”

Gushue said “it wasn’t that shot” that bothered him.

“We never made anything in that end,” Gushue said. “He gave us an out on his first one and we made a good one to force him to make an angle raise, but we missed a lot of easy shots in that end. It always looked like he was going to have a shot to win after our first five, six shots.”

With Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallows and coach Jules Owchar seeking a third consecutive Tim Hortons Brier title and Koe, a three-time champion, it was no surprise the two Canadian powerhouses went at it with neither giving an inch. They traded deuces in the first two ends and again in the fourth and fifth.

British Columbia’s Jim Cotter picked up a 7-6 win against New Brunswick’s Terry Odishaw to keep pace near the top of Pool B at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“It was a good game, lots of intensity, which you would expect when we play Brad. Rough start for us but happy the way we stuck in there and battled. The last two or three he’s definitely beat us more than we beat him so it’s nice to get him at the Brier,” Koe said.

Tied 5-5 after seven, Alberta had a chance to steal in eight, but Koe’s last-rock guard attempt moved in the last three or four feet, giving Gushue just enough room to slide by and tap back Alberta’s shot rock to score a single. Koe, with third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Tom Appelman and coach John Dunn, blanked the ninth to keep hammer for the tenth.

“The execution was really poor in the last three ends,” said Gushue. “There were a lot of shots missed out of the hand, which is kind of frustrating for me. I said Plan B too many times out there, especially late in the game.”

Jim Cotter and Team British Columbia (3-1, Vernon) bounced back from a 10-4 loss to Team Canada with a 7-6 win over Terry Odishaw and Team New Brunswick (1-3, Moncton).

Scott McDonald of Team Ontario (2-2, Kingston) won its second-straight game after opening with two losses, by beating Jamie Koe of Team Northwest Territories (0-4, Yellowknife) 10-2.

Stuart Thompson and Team Nova Scotia (3-1, Dartmouth) had a trio of three-enders to whip David St. Louis and Team Nunavut (0-4, Iqaluit) 11-2.

The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continues with Tuesday with draws at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. 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

About John Korobanik