Kevin survives Brier Koe battleAdvances to face Manitob's Fowler in semis
By Terry Jones, Edmonton Sun
|Alberta skip Kevin Koe (2nd R) is congratulated by brother and Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe after Kevin won the game during quarterfinal play at the Canadian Men's Curling Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan March 10, 2012. (REUTERS)
SASKATOON - Brier Bear won the 50-50 draw.
Polar Bears lost Brier 3-4 game.
And the Polar Bears were leading after the fifth end at the 83rd edition of the Canadian men's curling championships.
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.
Then it blew up on Jamie Koe and his Yellowknife team as his brother, Kevin, advanced to the semifinal against Rob Fowler of Manitoba with an over-after-nine-ends 10-6 win.
But as the two boys who grew up together North of 60 were shaking hands, Reg Caughie, the 74-year-old who has been inside the Brier mascot costume for 36-consecutive years, won the $23,302 50-50 draw.
To have both win would have been, well, the fuzzy-wuzziest curling story of all time.
“We played very well for the first half,” said Jamie, who ended up losing the stats battle 86% to 77%.
The crowd of 9,419 backed the Cinderella story and the team of Jamie, Tom Naughler, Brad Chorostkowski and Robert Border were feeding off the scene.
“We were really enjoying it,” said Jamie. “It was a fun time. It's a great way to experience the Brier. That crowd was pretty cool.
"And from the messages we've received from around the country, we felt like all of Canada was cheering for us. Everybody loves an underdog, I guess.”
The winner of tonight's semifinal will advance to Sunday's final against Russ Howard of Ontario with the loser playing in a Sunday morning bronze medal game against the Territories.
“We'll be cheering for them tonight so we don't have to play them in the bronze medal game and we can both have a big game Sunday,” said Jamie.
“If they won the gold and we won the bronze it would be something pretty special," he concluded.
With Saskatchewan fans cheering for the Cinderella story from the Territories, Jamie Koe and friends gave them a pretty good ride for five ends.
After a blank first end, Alberta's Koe drew to the four foot for two only to watch the Territories Koe come right back and draw to the button to tie it 2-2.
Forced to take one in the fourth end, Alberta briefly lost control when Jamie needed to draw to about two inches of exposed button and did it for a 4-3 lead at the break.
The turning point came in the sixth when Alberta split the house to score two and followed up with a steal when the Territories skip missed on a tricky last rock attempt to get the two back before ending up giving up a steal of one.
If it wasn't over then, it was on the next end when Jamie tried a circus shot but knocked his own rock out and gave up four and a 10-4 lead.
“It would have been an easy shot to give them one but we didn't think we were going to win the game that way,” Jamie explained.
“We decided to go all in. But we had deuce, three and we got called," he said.
At 10-4 it should have been over and out, but the guys who lost the Koe-Koe battle 11-3 Wednesday and 8-3 two years ago, in Halifax, had to abide by the run-'em-out-of-rocks-rule in Brier playoff games.
Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones