March 11, 2012
Brier bronze goes to Manitoba
By Terry Jones, QMI Agency
SASKATOON - You wouldn't want to suggest that the second annual bronze medal game at the Tim Hortons Brier wasn't considered to be something of a farce. At least, not going in.
They scheduled it at 9 a.m. local time.
It was relegated to TSN2.
And the skip of the Territories team wasn't exactly “up” for the game.
“I went to the Brier Patch,” Jamie Koe admitted of the night before.
“I stayed real late at the Brier Patch,” he added. “You have to enjoy yourself here. You have to enjoy the fans. We've tried it laying back in the hotel doing nothing. It didn't work for us.”
So on the big Saturday night final Brier-it-up party, the six-time Brier rep of the Territories out of Yellowknife did just that.
“I had about a half hour of sleep,” he said.
“The boys had to get security to open my hotel room door to get me out.”
What happened next, however, might have gone a long way to validate the bronze medal game.
“We were two teams really going at it today,” Koe marveled.
It turned out to be one of the best played games of the entire Brier by two teams who decided they wanted to win it when they got to the rink.
And in the end, despite 8,954 fans trying to root the Territories to the win, Rob Fowler's Manitoba team ended up with an 8-7 win in an extra end.
Fowler, who shot 66% the night before in losing the semi-final to Kevin Koe's Alberta team, bounced back to shoot 90% going against the Territories skip who made some incredible shots with much greater degree of difficulty in shooting 84%.
“I guess we kind of ended up putting on a show,” said Koe, who might have made the shot of the week with a triple takeout to get out of a mess in the seventh end.
For Manitoba, it was $30,000 third place money instead of $20,000 fourth place money and it was a very valuable 10,000 points toward their goal of getting to the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Olympic Trials in Winnipeg.
But mostly, they discovered, it was a chance to not go back to Brandon and have to say they were as sorry as they would if they'd lost all three of their playoff games.
“After two consecutive losses in the playoffs, if we'd lost three, it would have been tougher,” said Allan Lyburn, the 40-year-old third who once represented Scotland in the world junior championships.
“Jamie Koe was making everything. We really had to grind out that game to beat him. To end up doing that to get that win, for me in my first Brier, was a nice feeling to bring it to an end this way. I'll take it,” added the big guy who curled 86% in the game.
“That game meant something to us,” said Fowler.
“Jamie played amazing. He was awesome. He made it so difficult for us to win this game. It would have been very disappointing if we hadn't gone home with this medal.”
Koe's team from North of 60 had more than validated themselves by becoming the first Territories team ever to make it to the playoffs.
The performance only added to that.
“We proved we can compete at this level,” said the twin brother of Kelly Galusha who played for the Territories in the Scotties and the brother of Alberta skip Kevin Koe who beat him in the 3-4 game Saturday morning.
“We played pretty well and proved we can be in contention. We had two good games in the playoffs. With a couple of breaks in this game we could have won it.
“We beat Glenn Howard. We lost to Kevin twice. And we lost to Rob twice. But we proved we deserved to be here. We proved we were one of the better teams here this week.”