SASKATOON - They did it once. Can they do it again?
Two years ago in Halifax, Alberta's Kevin Koe became the first to come out of the 3-4 game and win the Brier since the inception of the Page playoff system in 1995.
Koe put himself in position to do it again Saturday by coming from behind after the fifth end to beat his brother, Jamie, and his Territories rink in the 3-4. He came back a second time to defeat Rob Fowler of Manitoba in the semifinal.
Koe hit for four on the eighth end to put his brother on the floor to win 10-6 and then hit Fowler for four on the eighth end to put Manitoba down for the count in a 8-6 win.
“Big eighth ends for sure ... Obviously a bad break with a pick for Fowler in this game on that eighth,” Koe said of a rock that went almost sideways at the last moment.
“I don't know if it picked or if it hit the frost out there,” said Alberta second Carter Rycroft.
But Fowler curled 66% for the game and that will have the folks back in Manitoba picking on him more than on the pick.
“That's a tough way to lose,” said Fowler. “You play your heart out and it evaporates like that.”
Playing with a throat infection, Alberta third Pat Simmons managed 75%.
“That was one gutsy performance by our third,” said Rycroft.
“I think he played great,” said Koe of the Moose Jaw chiropractor who has been on antibiotics since Monday.
“I thought I was, too,” said Simmons. “The way I felt in the morning, I didn't think I was going to be able to play for sure.”
At least he'll get about 20 hours rest before throwing his next rock.
While Koe beat Howard 6-5 in an extra end in the final at the 2010 Halifax Brier, he'll take a 4-17 lifetime record against Howard into the game.
It was an interesting day all around as Brier Bear won the 50-50 and the Polar Bears looked for a while like they might win the 3-4 game earlier in the afternoon.
The first Territories team ever to make the playoffs was playing well and looking like they could write an even more memorable story than they'd authored so far when they led at the fifth end break. Then it blew up on Jamie Koe and his Yellowknife team as his brother, Kevin, advanced to the semifinal with an over-after-nine-ends 10-6 win.
As the two boys who grew up together North of 60 were shaking hands after the unpredictable scenario, Reg Caughie, the 74-year-old who has been inside the Brier mascot costume for 36-consecutive years, won the $23,302 in the 50-50 draw.
To have both win here yesterday would have been, well, the fuzzy-wuzziest curling story of all time.
“We played very well for the first half,” said the Territories skip of the team which ended up losing the stats battle 86% to 77%.
The matinee crowd of 9,419 supported the Cinderella story all the way and the team of Jamie Koe, Tom Naughler, Brad Chorostkowski and Robert Border fed off the scene.
“We were really enjoying it,” Jamie said. “It was a fun time. It's a great way to experience the Brier ... A lot of people were cheering for us, and from the messages we've received from around the country, we felt like all of Canada was cheering for us.”
Jamie was cheering extra hard for his brother in last night's semifinal.
“We don't have to play them in the bronze medal game,” said Jamie. “Hopefully we can both have a big game Sunday."
“If they won the gold and we won the bronze it would be something pretty special," he concluded.
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