Kevin Koe's team wins Alberta's 26th Brier title
Team Alberta's skip Kevin Koe throws a rock in the first end against team British Columbia during the championship draw at the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier curling championships in Kamloops, British Columbia March 9, 2014. (REUTERS)
Kevin Koe may not be an Olympian. But he does his best work in Olympic years.
Four years ago, when Kevin Martin won gold for Canada at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Koe won his first Brier and went on to Cortina-d’Ampezzo, Italy and won the world men’s curling championship.
Now he, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen are off to Beijing for another world championship later this month.
After losing the opening game of the Brier to John Morris and his newly acquired B.C. team previously skipped by Jim Cotter, Koe lost the 1-2 game to the same team here Friday evening. But it was no contest in the final of the 85th Brier Sunday.
Koe put three threes on the scoreboard in the first seven ends and coasted to handshakes after nine ends with a 10-5 win.
It was Alberta’s 26th Brier title, one fewer than Manitoba.
In the last 13 years it’s Alberta’s eighth title.
After two titles by Pat Ryan, four by Kevin Martin and four more by Randy Ferbey, Koe has supplied the last two.
While two members of his team are from Edmonton and the other from Moose Jaw, Koe became the first Calgary-based skip to win a Brier since Ed Lukowich in 1986.
He was the first to win a Brier coming out of the Page playoff 3-4 game, and took the same route two years ago only to lose to the final 7-6 to Glenn Howard of Ontario. Sunday made it three trips to the final in three trips to the Brier for Koe.
“We just wanted to have a winning record,” he laughed.
Both teams, in addition to having all expenses paid and receiving $13,150, received $40,000 in cresting exposure money with bronze medal-winner Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba receiving $30,000 and fourth-place Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec taking home $20,000.
There’s the trip to compete in the world championship in Beijing, is a spot in next year’s Canada Cup in Camrose, Alta., and a spot in next year’s Continental Cup at the WinSport Centre in Calgary. But the new bonus this year is the right to become the first team in 86 years of Brier history to win a free trip back — to the Calgary 2015 Brier — to play as Team Canada.
It was wild the way this game escaped Morris and the B.C. team he took over after splitting with Kevin Martin after last year’s Brier failure in Edmonton.
Last-rock thrower Cotter scored a pair in the opening end, but the combination of Carter Rycroft making a triple takeout to sit two burried and a miss by Morris set Alberta up for three in the second end.
After blanking the third, Cotter flashed with his first rock, Koe split the house and forced B.C. to take one.
In the fifth, Koe made a finesse tap to score three to take the final by the throat, 6-3, at the fifth-end break.
With Cotter and Morris being named all-stars on the front end along with lead Rick Sawatsky and second Tyrel Griffith receiving second-team status, there was a consolation prize for the team, which also lost the final of the Roar of the Rings to Brad Jacobs.