Team Koe built for Brier-winning moments

For Kevin Koe, any Brier is stressful given how deep the field is in Canada so to win it in 2016 was a gratifying experience.

This is what Alberta’s Team Koe was built for when they formed last season.

Kevin Koe made waves when he parted ways with his Brier-winning team and joined forces with Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing, and Ben Hebert, intent on gunning for gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Year 1 was disappointing for the Calgary-based crew as they didn’t reach the final at any Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events and missed the playoffs altogether at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Now in Year 2, Team Koe were the last men standing in quite possibly the toughest Tim Hortons Brier field ever after defeating Team Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador 9-5 in Sunday’s final.

For all four members it’s their third time winning the Brier, but represents something special as it’s their first all together.

Team Koe have also claimed two other major titles this season winning the Pinty’s GSOC Tour Challenge and the Canada Cup, the latter of which earned them the first spot to the 2017 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials and another step closer to their goal of representing Canada at the Winter Games.

Following this week’s Elite 10 event, Team Koe will wear the red and white at the world championship in Basel, Switzerland. Koe also returns to next year’s Brier in St. John’s, N.L., looking to tie Randy Ferbey, Kevin Martin and Ernie Richardson for the record of most Brier wins as a skip at four.

Now onto our Eight Ends:

1st End: Silver lining for Gushue

The 13th time wasn’t exactly unlucky for Brad Gushue — he did make it all the way to the final after all — but it didn’t result in his elusive Brier victory either.

Gushue opened the final with the hammer advantage, but gave up a two-point steal to Koe and struggled to catch up the rest of the way. Newfoundland’s Brier drought continues with Jack MacDuff skipping the province’s last (and only) win 40 years ago in 1976.

While Gushue doesn’t return to next year’s Brier in St. John’s wearing the Team Canada maple leaf, he could have the chance to win his first on home ice. Now how cool would that be?

2nd End: Game of inches

If you ever wonder how curling acquired the “game of inches” nickname, look no further than Saturday night’s semifinal between Koe and Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario.

Koe scored the 6-5 victory with a deuce in the 10th end on a measurement counting a stone that was just touching enough of the top of the outside ring to count.

Had that not counted, the game would have required an extra end with Jacobs holding the hammer in OT. An inch in curling can make a huge difference.

3rd End: Emotional night for Savill

Ottawa native Craig Savill had been looking forward to playing in his hometown Tim Hortons Brier all year. Savill joined Shawn Adams’ team in Nova Scotia, but had to step back from the game mid-season when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the building when Savill, who won two Brier titles with Glenn Howard, rejoined Team Ontario to throw a perfect pair of lead stones during their Thursday night round-robin match against Team Canada.

4th End: Quick hits

– It’s a Canadian curling championship sweep for the Glencoe Club in Calgary with not only Koe capturing the Brier, but also Chelsea Carey’s team winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month. For now Calgary can claim the “City of Champions” nickname from their neighbours up the road.

– With Jacobs and Manitoba’s Mike McEwen eliminated from title contention Saturday, usually the feeling is you just want to pack up and go home. Both teams had to stick around another day and play the bronze medal game, but they were good sports giving the fans a show that went into the extra end with Jacobs winning 7-6.

– Pat Simmons and Team Canada relinquished the red and white jerseys after missing the playoffs. Team Simmons started off strong winning their first three games, but faded as the week wore on and finished with a 6-5 record.

– Adam Casey and Team P.E.I. finished at the bottom of the table at 2-9 and the province will have to play in the pre-qualifier round next year alongside Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Yukon. Casey is no stranger to the pre-qualifier after taking the long road last year.

5th End: Rocque wins CCT Uiseong Masters

Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque picked up her second title of the season claiming the CCT Uiseong Masters in South Korea.

Rocque scored a deuce in six and stole three in the seventh to beat Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland 5-1 in Friday’s final.

Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., earned the bronze medal defeating hometown hero EunJung Kim 9-7.

6th End: Canada brings home the hardware at the world juniors

Mary Fay of Chester, N.S., has made it a three-peat for Team Canada at the world junior curling championships.

Fay defeated American Cory Christensen 7-4 in Sunday’s final in Taarnby, Denmark, following in the footsteps of Rocque’s back-to-back title wins in 2014 and 2015.

Winnipeg’s Matt Dunstone earned the bronze medal topping Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland 8-4 on the junior men’s side. Scotland’s Bruce Mouat won the junior men’s title beating American Korey Dropkin 6-3.

Team Dunstone had an eventful week and also may have saved a man’s life. Vice skip Kyle Doering and fifth Wade Ford were on their way to the arena last Wednesday when they reportedly heard a loud bang and upon searching they found a construction worker trapped underneath a large machine. Along with others, they managed to pull the man free.

Fay and Mouat’s teams have qualified for the Humpty’s Champions Cup, the season-ending Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event.

Meanwhile, Dunstone makes his return to the Pinty’s GSOC series in a few days …

7th End: Onward to the Elite 10

The Pinty’s GSOC season resumes Thursday for the Elite 10 in Victoria.

Dunstone will spare at third on Charley Thomas’s team and faces a field that also includes Brier champions Team Koe as well as women’s No. 1 ranked Team Homan. That’s right, Homan is playing against the men in the match-play event.

Tickets are on sale for the Elite 10, visit to purchase yours today.

Can’t make it to Victoria? Sportsnet will have you covered, click here to see the TV schedule.

8th End: Worth a click

– In case you missed it, we talked to Blake MacDonald, who explained how fitness was an advantage when he won the Brier and world titles with Team Koe in 2010, but now it’s the norm and curlers who aren’t working out are at a significant disadvantage. MacDonald, who’s president of Orangetheory Fitness, also shared his top three workout keys for curlers (click here to read the feature).

– A crowdfunding site has been launched to help expand the “Far From Home” curling documentary series from short web videos into fully produced, half-hour episodes. Click here to learn more about the series and how you can help.

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