- Koe, third-place B.J. Neufeld, second-place John Morris, and first-place Ben Hebert all get some extra rest due to their first-place finish.
- With a 6-5 victory over Wild Card Three’s Jason Gunnlaugson earlier Thursday, Brad Gushue’s Wild Card One team (7-0) took first place in Pool B.
Kevin Koe of Alberta looked it up at the media backdrop stand adorned with pictures of previous national men’s curling champions shortly after trying to secure first place in his pool with some other comfortable round-robin win.
The veteran skip is holding the Tim Hortons Brier Tankard in four of them. He’s made it past the first stumbling block on his quest to do it all over again.
“I guess it gives me a lot of pride to have won this four times,” Koe said. “They’re wonderful memories, but the focus is clearly on winning another.” It’ll probably help us all relax a little now that we’ve won it.
“We know what to expect if we end up in a situation where we have to try to win another one.”
The first-place finish allows Koe, third-place B.J. Neufeld, second-place John Morris, and first-place Ben Hebert to get some extra rest. They’ll be able to skip the crossover playoff qualifier games between the second and third-place finishers in the two pools on Friday afternoon.
“We’re glad we’re here,” Hebert said, “but now the real work begins.”
Brendan Bottcher (7-1) of Canada finished second after defeating Nathan Young of Newfoundland as well as Labrador 6-3. Colton Flasch (6-2) of Saskatchewan needed an extra end to beat Matt Dunstone (6-2) of Wild Card Two 9-8 to set up a Friday tiebreaker among the provincial rivals the 3rd playoff spot in Pool A.
Brad Gushue’s Wild Card One team (7-0) took first place in Pool B with a 6-5 victory over Wild Card Three’s Jason Gunnlaugson earlier Thursday.
Mike McEwen of Manitoba defeated Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories 7-3 to tie for second with Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs at 5-2.
Manitoba and Northern Ontario can clinch playoff berths with victories in the round-robin finale on Thursday night. McEwen was set to face Quebec’s Michael Fournier (3-4), and Jacobs faced Paul Flemming of Nova Scotia (3-4).
Gunnlaugson (5-3) was still in contention for a tiebreaker in the late draw.
After eight ends, he had a 4-3 lead over Gushue, but the St. John’s skip scored two in the ninth end to take the lead. In the 10th, a measure confirmed Gunnlaugson’s single, but Gushue took advantage of the hammer in the extra end.
“Hopefully, in the playoffs, we’ll be able to get all 4 guys going at the same time,” Gushue, who won Olympic bronze in Beijing last month, said. “I like how everybody is throwing it.”
Quebec defeated Nova Scotia 14-6, Ontario’s Glenn Howard defeated Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin 10-2, as well as British Columbia’s Brent Pierce, defeated Nunavut’s Peter Mackey 9-2 in those other games.
This year’s national playdowns feature an expanded playoff structure and an 18-team field – two more than usual.
On Friday afternoon, the crossover games will take place, with the winners facing the pool leaders in the evening. The victors of those games will compete in the Page playoff 1-2 game on Saturday, while the losers will compete in the Page playoff 3-4 game.
The 1-2 Page winner qualifies for the final on Sunday night. In the semifinal earlier that day, the 1-2 loser will face the 3-4 winner.
The winner of the Brier will represent Canada at the world men’s curling championships in Las Vegas from April 2 to 10.
Source: Global News