The leader of preliminary round play at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continued his perfect win-loss march by winning a bye to the championship final at Westoba Place in Brandon Sunday evening.
Alberta’s Kevin Koe defeated Northern Ontario 9-4 in dominant fashion just 24 hours after collecting a similar result versus the Brad Jacobs rink. Jacobs’s loss – the team’s third of the week – means his Northern Ontario squad will face the Wild Card Brendan Bottcher rink in the Brier’s semi-final on Sunday afternoon.
This will be Koe’s fifth appearance in the national championship final. He won in 2010, 2014 and 2016, and lost one in 2012.
Koe went into the 1-2 match unbeaten in 11 games, including a 7-5 victory over Jacobs in the final game of the Championship Pool the previous night.
“We’re going to be in tough whoever we play (in the final). The game definitely won’t be like that,” said Koe following the match. “We’ll probably have to bring our best game of the week, but we’re where we need to be.”
Alberta opened Saturday’s game with the hammer, jumping in front with a Koe draw for a deuce.
The second end had the front of the house jammed with four Northern Ontario and two Alberta stones. Jacobs burned a substantial amount of time before figuring out how to work around the crowd with their final three rocks. He missed a raise to clear Alberta’s scorer, allowing Koe to guard the center-line and forcing Jacobs to hit a tight hole between two guards in response. He missed and Koe stole three to take full control of the match, 5-0.
“The second end was a little bit of a funny end. Neither team knew if we were sitting good or in trouble,” said Koe. “Me and B.J. (Neufeld, third) talked and wondered if we were in trouble or not and didn’t know. I made a good one on my first, then Brad missed and he was in big trouble… It was one of those big ends where it was probably game over.”
Alberta commanded the third end sitting three at skip stones, forcing Jacobs to take a single, then resumed his domination by scoring two with an angle raise to make the score 7-1. An intricate double by Koe moved Jacobs to take another single in the fifth end, putting him down by five at the half.
Alberta blanked the sixth end then scored two to put the game virtually out of reach. Northern Ontario finally scored their first deuce of the game in the eighth, but it was too late. The teams shook hands to end the match early.
“That loss right there, that’s all on me. That’s on my shoulders,” Jacobs said. “The boys played great in front of me. I told them I’ll be better tomorrow and that’s the plan. I think I skipped us into some questionable situations there, then didn’t get results.”
The semi-final between Bottcher and Jacobs begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The teams previously meet way back on March 2 in the opening draw of the tournament. Jacobs won that match in eight ends, 10-2.