One step closer!
Team Alberta closes in on Tim Hortons Brier title.
Anybody who has watched Canadian men’s curling the last decade has likely come away with a couple of right-minded observations: skip Kevin Koe is getting up in years, and yet is still very, very good at what he does.
Someday he will become too old to dominate, but now is not the time. So it may come as no surprise Friday that Koe skipped his team to the 1-2 Page playoff game at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier in Lethbridge, presented by AGI.
Koe, 47, and in the hunt for a piece of Tim Hortons Brier history, moved into prime position to claim another Canadian men’s curling championship by guiding his Team Alberta (Calgary) to a 7-2 win over skip Colton Flasch’s Team Saskatchewan’s (Saskatoon) in one of two Playoff Round 2 games at the ENMAX Centre.
It was a battle of former teammates. Flasch won a Tim Hortons with Koe in 2019.
Koe will face skip Brendan Bottcher’s Team Canada (Edmonton) in the Page Playoff 1-2 Game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (all times Mountain). The defending champs defeated three-man Team Wild Card #1 (St. John’s) skipped by Brad Gushue 4-3, and moved into position to play in their fifth straight Tim Hortons Brier final. Gushue was forced to play shorthanded after third Mark Nichols tested positive for COVID-19 before the game.
Koe looked most impressive in taking out Team Saskatchewan, which was playing its third game of the day. The boys from the Queen City started the day by winning a tiebreaker just to get into the playoffs, and then proceeded to knock off former Canadian and Olympic gold-medal champion Team Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie) skipped by Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie) in the first round of the playoffs.
The two teams played it close to the vest for five ends, waiting for the inevitable crack in the porcelain, and it came in the sixth end when Flasch failed to remove an Alberta stone three-quarters buried, allowing Koe to draw for two and take a 3-1 lead. He protected the lead.
“It was solid,” said Koe, who is looking to become the first man to skip five Tim Hortons Brier champions. “I thought we controlled the game. Colton made a bunch of good shots early. But we got control in the second half, didn’t do anything flashy and just maintained it.”
In the other game, Gushue, coming off a bronze-medal performance in the recently completed Winter Olympics in Beijing, was game enough but was eventually worn down by the defending champs.
“We were fortunate to stay close,” said Gushue. “We had only three players and he (Bottcher) allowed us to keep it close. Playing with three players against the defending champions and to go to the last rock, I thought we did pretty good.”
“We’ve done everything we can in the last three months to avoid this. It’s a gut punch and a kick in the gut.”
“It’s just so unfortunate,” he said. “For the last couple of years (of COVID) it’s been speed bump after speed bump. I wish Mark all the best. They made such a great effort out there tonight. It wouldn’t surprise me if they won a few more games this week.”
All was not lost for Team Saskatchewan and Team Wild Card #1. Both were bounced down to Saturday’s Page 3-4 playoff at 1:30 p.m., from which the road to the final is a little more difficult. The loser is out but the winner advances to Sunday’s 11 a.m. semifinal.
The final goes Sunday at 6 p.m.
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.
TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2022brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2022brier/nouvelles/?lang=fr