Kevin Koe defeats Brad Gushue to win the Tim Hortons Brier
OTTAWA – Alberta’s Kevin Koe defeated Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue 9-5 on Sunday night to win his third career Tim Hortons Brier title.
The Calgary skip made his move in the seventh end with a nice takeout in a crowded four-foot to score three. Gushue scored a pair in the eighth end but Koe’s deuce in the ninth end put the game away.
“We struggled last year and to come back, have a great year and top it off with a Brier is awesome,” Koe said.
Koe won the Brier in 2010 and 2014 but this is his first title with current teammates Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert.
Gushue won Olympic gold at the 2006 Turin Games but he has yet to win a Brier in 13 career appearances. His St. John’s team included Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker.
Koe was aggressive from the start and forced Gushue to go for a double runback that was just slightly off, allowing Alberta to steal a single in the first end. Koe stole another in the second before Gushue halved the lead with a hit for one in the third.
A Koe deuce in the fourth end gave Alberta a 4-1 lead. He didn’t let up in the fifth, coming through with a nice double takeout to force Gushue to hit for a single.
Newfoundland and Labrador stole one back in the sixth end before Koe’s big end.
Earlier in the day, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs put a couple of tough losses behind him by edging Manitoba’s Mike McEwen 7-6 to win the bronze medal.
Jacobs was the only unbeaten team in round-robin play at TD Place but two straight playoff defeats sent the reigning Olympic champion to the third-place game.
McEwen forced an extra end with a double takeout to score a pair. Jacobs had hammer in the 11th end and drew to the four-foot for the victory.
“This raises our spirits a little bit,” Jacobs said. “Coming back out here and playing well and winning a bronze medal is something that I think we’ll be proud of. And like I said, it feels good.
“We were really feeling the pain of those two losses last night so this lifts our spirits.”
Jacobs was in control of the Page Playoff 1-2 game on Friday night but Gushue came back to win and lock up a berth in the gold-medal game. Northern Ontario lost on a measurement to Koe in Saturday night’s semifinal.
On Sunday, McEwen stole a pair in the opening end but Jacobs followed with a deuce of his own. Jacobs took the lead with a single in the fourth end and stole another point in the fifth.
The Manitoba skip came through with a nice double to pull even in the sixth end, but Jacobs answered with a deuce in the eighth.
“We couldn’t put together eight shots in an end during the middle half of that game,” McEwen said. “It’s tough to win that way.”
McEwen, who was playing in his first Brier, lost to Koe in the 3-4 Page Playoff game.
Koe won his first Canadian men’s curling championship in 2010 with Blake MacDonald, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen. His 2014 lineup featured Rycroft, Thiessen and Pat Simmons.
Laing won Brier titles in 2007 in 2012 with Ontario skip Glenn Howard. Kennedy and Hebert hoisted the Tankard in 2008 and 2009 with Alberta skip Kevin Martin and added an Olympic title in 2010.
Gushue previously reached the Brier final in 2011 and 2007.
Announced attendance was 7,183 for the early game and 8,419 for the final. The tournament total was 115,047.
Koe will represent Canada at the men’s world curling championship next month in Basel, Switzerland.
In addition, he qualifies for this year’s Canada Cup in Brandon, Man., the 2017 Continental Cup in Las Vegas and will return as Team Canada at next year’s Brier in St. John’s.
Koe’s team will receive $225,000, including $144,000 in Sport Canada funding over two years. Gushue’s rink will earn $61,000.
Koe will also get 88.678 points in the Canadian Team Ranking System. Gushue gets 69.676 points and Jacobs picked up 53.840 points.
Alberta’s Chelsea Carey won the women’s national title last month in Grande Prairie, Alta. She will represent Canada at the upcoming world women’s curling championship in Swift Current, Sask.