Underdog Koe playing them tough

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- Although the northerners knocked off the hometown favourites, Yukon/NWT's Kerry Koe figures the locals will forgive her.

"It seems like we're the underdog so people cheer for us, I think, even when we're playing Alberta," Koe said after clipping Alberta's Cheryl Bernard 7-6 in an extra end at the Enmax Centre yesterday, dropping Bernard to an uncomfortable 1-3 before the late draw of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Koe, who has played every team here tough, is 2-3.

"I think everyone is realizing that they can't take us for granted," Koe suggested. "They know in the back of their minds we're a good team. But still, they see the name, Northwest Territories/Yukon and you're going to think, 'Ahh.' "

Koe's fifth, Nicole Baldwin, replaced second Kelli Turpin, who was ill, for both games yesterday.

SURVIVOR: Last year, Ontario third Tara George competed in the nationals in London, Ont., while pregnant and concerned about her father, Tom Coulterman, who had undergone an eight-hour operation to treat pancreatic cancer. And her team skipped by Krista Scharf finished the tourney 4-7.

"It was hard (in London) but it was harder for me at the provincials when he was undergoing his operation while I was playing at the provincials because I couldn't be there for him," George said. "He wanted me to stay there and curl. His operation was in London so it was nice to have him at the Scott and to be able to watch. It gave him something to look forward to."

Coulterman had just been diagnosed the Christmas before the nationals.

"It was quick and then, I was pregnant and emotional, too," George said.

Coulterman has not only recovered but is coaching the Ontario team here once again. And Scharf was 3-1 heading into the late draw.

OLYMPIC COINS: Women's curling will be featured when the Royal Canadian Mint issues 17 commemorative coins for the 2010 Olympics to be held in Vancouver/Whisler. The loonie-size coins will include one of a female in the process of delivering a rock, which is to be released here tomorrow. Up to 350 million coins will be put into circulation before 2010.

CONDOLENCES: Our condolences to the family of Brandon's Neil Andrews, a two-time Manitoba senior men's champion who succumbed to a rare disease on the weekend. A special tribute will be held for Andrews during the opening ceremonies of this year's senior men's provincial championship at the Fort Rouge Curling Club on Thursday.

CASHING IN: The local host committee raised a record total of $141,220 for the Sandra Schmirler Foundation on Sunday. The money finances neonatal facilities across Canada and is raised in honour of the Olympic gold medallist and three-time Canadian champion who lost a battle to cancer.

TROOPS TRIBUTE: The Hearts tournament will salute Canadian troops in Afghanistan in a special ceremony at the Enmax Centre on Friday. Curlers will be wearing red as non-partisan support to the troops and fans are being asked to do the same. Local soldiers who have served in Afghanistan will be recognized during the fifth-end break of Friday night's playoff game.


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