Jones: Four good stories enter Brier playoffs

Nova Scotia skip Jamie Murphy (R) watches as Alberta skip Kevin Koe (C) and third Pat Simmons...

Nova Scotia skip Jamie Murphy (R) watches as Alberta skip Kevin Koe (C) and third Pat Simmons discuss their next move. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:53 PM ET

SASKATOON - Jamie Koe was asked the question: What's more surprising? That you're in the playoffs? Or that your brother is in the 3-4 game playing you?

The skip of the first Territories team ever to make it to the final four of the Brier shook his head.

“I'm most surprised about the way they're struggling right now,” he said of Kevin Koe's Alberta team.

It was a wild and crazy finish to the round-robin of the 83rd Brier as Alberta lost its third game after an unbeaten start 6-3 to Glenn Howard's Ontario crew.

Despite having to play five games in extra ends, Howard ended up with a 10-1 record.

While just about everybody went into this thing expecting an Ontario-Alberta 1-2 game Friday night, it didn't work out that way.

Due to Alberta’s loss to Manitoba’s Rob Fowler the night before, the Buffalo Boys got the nod between the two 8-3 teams.

So it's Ontario-Manitoba Friday night.

That left Jamie Koe's Territories team all alone with a 7-4 record after an 8-3 win over Jim Cotter of B.C.

It produced a Koe-Koe 1-2 game Saturday afternoon.

The only other previous Polar Bear successes at the Brier were when the Territories entered during the pre-playoff days in 1975. Don Twa ended up tied for second.

In 1985, Al Delmage, representing the Territories, made it into a tie breaker but lost.

“It's pretty exciting and pretty satisfying,” said Jamie. “In our six years at the Brier we've never been there. It's unreal.”

As for having a do-over against his brother after a highly hyped 11-3 loss in the round-robin, he said that's absolutely the case.

“Hopefully this time everybody will have a good game,” said Jamie. “Getting to play that game again as a playoff game is going to be awesome.”

And not only because he won the position on dad Fred's 65th birthday.

“I think mom is flying home to Yellowknife tomorrow,” he said. “That's what she did two years ago when Kevin won the Brier.”

She'll be greeted by a celebration, he figures.

“I'm sure they'll be going crazy.”

A pretty good story, too, is Manitoba ending up in second.

It was validation for the Brandon bunch.

When Rob Fowler punched his ticket to the 83rd Brier by winning the Manitoba Tankard in Dauphin, a significant percentage the Manitoba populace were doubtful.

Understandable when they had Brier defending champion Jeff Stoughton and world tour leading money leader Mike McEwen. There was also the fact Fowler hadn't previously skipped at a Brier and his team of Allan Lyburn, Richard Daneault and Derek Samagalski were all Brier rookies.

“Definitely that's what everybody was talking about,” said second Daneault. “We had a lot of respect for those other two teams. But we've proved that we're good, too.”

The Buffalo Boys ran the table in their last four games to clinch a playoff position.

“We believed we could win and compete at the top level here,” added the 35-year-old former second for Kerry Burtnyk.

“We've just proved that we're a good solid team that deserved to be here,” said third Allan Lyburn, the 40-year-old who once skipped Scotland at the world juniors in Oberstdorf, Germany before his family moved to the Brandon area.

“We haven't won it. But we've put ourselves in position to win it,” Lyburn said.

Four pretty good stories going into the playoffs.

But there are eight pretty sorry stories headed home.

Has there ever been a Brier when only four teams ended up with winning records and nobody else managed to be better than 5-6?

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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