by Martin Gavin
Special to Northern News Services
The 2020 Tim Hortons Brier has been an uphill battle for the NWT, skipped by Jamie Koe and his rink from the Yellowknife Curling Centre.
Regardless of the tenacity and heart showed by the team at the Canadian men’s curling championship, they failed to advance to the championship round and earn a shot to make the playoffs.
“We made a lot of great shots but at this level, everyone makes great shots,” said Koe.
Koe’s squad had two wins as of press time, those coming against Yukon on Tuesday and New Brunswick on Wednesday morning by a score of 8-6. Koe scored a single in the 10th end to seal the deal.
In the game versus New Brunswick, Koe came out the better of the two rinks. Following a single by New Brunswick skip James Grattan in the opening end, Koe struck back with three in the second to take a 3-1 lead. Grattan, though, is known for stealing and a comeback was always possible. Koe settled in to throw his last rock in the 10th, facing four New Brunswick rocks and the loss with a one-point lead. Koe pulled off a nose-hit double-takeout to get the single, doubling the number in the win column and quite possibly ending the championship round hopes of Grattan.
Kevin Koe, who skips Team Canada as defending champions, was fighting for his championship life as of Wednesday. Going into Wednesday’s play, he was standing with four wins coupled by two losses. Four wins would guarantee a tie-break scenario to advance but Kevin said would prefer to go through directly.
“We have to win tomorrow night (Wednesday) and hope the numbers line up,” he said.
Putting on a highlight reel of best-of shots this week, including triple-takeouts on two occasions to win games, Koe is balanced with his expectations.
More than one person this week has said the combination of ice, rocks and players has made for an evolution in the game which has been previously unseen.
Kevin Koe feels that it’s just an excuse to get better.
“We need to be better as everyone else gets better, it never stops,” he said.
Jamie Koe closes out pool play Wednesday evening against John Epping’s Ontario squad, which was his last game in this year’s Brier while B.C.’s Steve Laycock went up against Kevin Koe. A loss to B.C. and the possibility may indeed slip away for a successful defence of his title and a fifth Brier win.