They were the best team in pool play and the best team after the championship round.
In the end, Team NWT ended up winning a bronze medal for the second straight time at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.
Jamie Koe and his rink of Margot Flemming, Cole Parsons and Megan Koehler snagged themselves third place at this year’s event in Canmore, Alta., after beating James Grattan of New Brunswick in the third-place game on Sunday afternoon by a score of 8-3. It’s the same result for Koe as the one from two years ago, the last time the event was held. Last year’s championship was cancelled due to the pandemic. He also skipped the territory to a silver medal finish in 2015.
Koe said it’s always a nice feeling to end things on a winning note.
“I’ve been on the other side of losing a final and we’ve won bronze before but winning a medal is a happy feeling,” he said.
Koe and company were the class of the field all week long in Canmore, losing just one game leading up to the semifinal — a round-robin defeat at the hands of Northern Ontario’s Trevor Bonot, 4-3. Bonot stole a single in the final end to secure the win. Before that, the foursome had beaten Quebec, Alberta, Nunavut, Nova Scotia and Manitoba to end up tied with Northern Ontario and Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard with a record of five wins and one loss.
That put the foursome into the championship pool, where they played the four teams from the other pool to determine which four teams would advance to the playoffs. They reeled off wins over Saskatchewan (7-5) and Ontario (7-0), followed by two more victories against New Brunswick (5-3) and B.C. (6-3) to finish atop the championship pool at nine wins and one loss.
“We had some real good vibes going into Sunday,” said Koe. “That one loss is on me a bit because I missed a draw in the last end. We didn’t really show up for that game but I thought we had a good chance. We knew we would have to play two good games on Sunday.”
Their opposition in the semifinal was Quebec and Koe drew first blood in the second end with a single after both teams blanked the opening end. Menard would come back in the third end with three to take a 3-1 lead before both teams traded singles in ends four through six to make it 4-3. Koe would steal a single in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4 but Menard, with last rock, would score a deuce in the eighth and final end to win, 6-4, and relegate the NWT to the bronze medal game.
Koe said the third end wasn’t the greatest end his rink played that week.
“We missed about five shots in that end and honestly, he could’ve scored five,” he said. “I made a nice shot to leave him a tough one to make for three and I could’ve come back in the fourth but one of my rocks picked and went sideways. That kind of told us it wasn’t going to be our day.”
Koe would start the battle for bronze with the hammer and put up a four-spot in the first end, followed by a steal of one in the second to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Both skips traded singles in the third and fourth ends and deuces in the fifth and sixth ends but it would be Grattan who would decide to shake hands following the sixth, handing the NWT bronze.
Koe said there wasn’t any talk after the game about disappointment of being so close to the championship.
“We had about 90 minutes after the semifinal to get back into the groove and regroup,” he said. “It feels better to win a medal and we played a great game against New Brunswick. No one was upset because a medal was the target for us.”
Flemming received a personal honour as she was named the most valuable player in terms of the women by the event organizers.