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Jamie Koe heads back to Alberta with his men’s rink for ATB Banff Classic

Jamie Koe was busy in Alberta earlier this month winning a bronze medal with his mixed rink at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in Canmore.

Jamie Koe was busy in Alberta earlier this month winning a bronze medal with his mixed rink at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in Canmore.

He was back in the province this past weekend, this time in Banff, with his men’s team for their first bonspiel of this season but it didn’t produce the same results.

Koe and his rink of Shadrach McLeod, Cole Parsons and Glen Kennedy, the team’s out-of-territory player from Edmonton and the older brother of Marc Kennedy, took to the ice for the ATB Banff Classic. It was a 12-team, triple-knockout event, meaning a team had three chances to make the final four and a share of the prize money. Unfortunately for Koe and company, those three chances were used up in consecutive order as they lost three straight.

It was a rather stacked field in Banff with no less than four teams from the Grand Slam circuit among the dozen — Mike McEwen of Manitoba, John Epping of Ontario, Colton Flasch of Saskatchewan and Kevin Koe, Jamie’s older brother — with the final coming down to Epping vs. Koe. Epping would win out by a score of 7-5 to take the $9,000 winners’ cheque.

“We knew it would be a tough field,” said Jamie Koe. “Plenty of top-notch teams out there but we took away what went wrong out there and work on that for the next two months and develop a team strategy.”

Koe started his opening contest against Jacob Libbus of Okotoks, Alta., and was on the wrong end of a 7-2 decision. Koe had last rock in the opening end but it was Libbus who came out the better of the two teams, stealing the first four points of the contest.

“We had a couple of good chances in that one but we just had a slow start,” said Koe. “They’re one of those teams who play the circuit down in Alberta and they win more than they lose.”

That knocked Koe down to the B bracket where he would play Evan van Amsterdam of Calgary, where he would drop a 6-2 decision. It was win-and-stay-in from that point on in the C bracket and it wouldn’t get any easier as McEwen was the next opposition. That ended in a 6-1 defeat, ending Koe’s run.

“You don’t want to be playing someone like (McEwen) when your tournament life is on the line,” said Koe. “I felt it was our best game of the entire weekend but they’re a real good team and they got the jump on us early.”

The entire weekend as a whole felt like a Grand Slam event with that many good teams out playing, he added.

“They were all playing pretty loose and getting back into it,” he said. “Their last big event was the (Olympic) trials and it was really tight there. You could see them open up a bit and play more loosely but still a tough field.”

This was the only action outside the NWT the foursome will have before the NWT Men’s Curling Championship at the Yellowknife Curling Centre in February. Kennedy will be coming up in January to work with the team in advance of the event, which will determine the NWT representative for the Tim Hortons Brier later in the month.

“We know what we have to work on,” said Koe. “Glen fit in really well with us and we knew he would be. I’ve known him for years and we were over in South Korea back in 2018 watching our brothers at the Winter Olympics. We started talking about strategic things over there and having him on the team is good for the dynamics.”