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Alberta skip Kevin Koe delivers a shot as they play Quebec at the Brier curling championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best (SHAUN BEST)
Alberta skip Kevin Koe delivers a shot as they play Quebec at the Brier curling championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 10, 2010. REUTERS/Shaun Best (SHAUN BEST)

Alberta marches on to Brier final Add to ...

This could be one heck of a farewell performance.

Just a month after admitting his team was unlikely to stay together beyond this season, Kevin Koe an his Alberta foursome are within a game of winning one of the biggest prizes in Canadian curling, the Tim Hortons Brier.

On Saturday night, Koe hammered Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs 10-3 in the semi-final and to move on to face Ontario's Glenn Howard in Sunday night's championship tilt.

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"It's a huge opportunity," Koe said of his shot in the final.

"Obviously he's the big favourite, there's no surprise there. But we're playing well now."

It's been an unlikely ride for the Edmonton foursome, which has been among the top competitive teams in the land for some time but is making just its first Brier appearance this year. That's in large part due to playing in the same province as Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey, who have combined to win the last 11 Alberta titles.

At this year's provincial championships - played without Martin who was preparing for the Olympics -- Koe said he doubted his team would stick together in its present form beyond this season because of the time and demands it takes to play the game at the highest level.

If that's true, the Edmonton rink is going out in style.

"No matter what happens next year, we didn't let it worry us here," said Koe. "We still haven't talked about it and if we win tomorrow, we still won't talk about it for another few weeks. We'll worry about it when the year's done."

Against the youthful Northern Ontario squad, Koe wasted no time in getting right into things, creating a tangle of rocks around the four-foot in the first end. When Jacobs missed a difficult draw attempt with his last shot, Alberta stole two points.

Koe stole two more in the third when Jacobs, needing to draw to the full eight-foot, was heavy allowing the Alberta foursome to jump out to a 4-0 lead.

After surrendering two in the fourth end, Koe made a double with his last shot in the fifth to score three more and take a commanding 7-2 lead all but ending any hopes for the team from Sault Ste. Marie and sending many of the fans at the Metro Centre scurrying for the Brier Patch.

"That wasn't the way we thought we'd win," admitted Koe of the thrashing laid on the Jacobs' foursome. "I thought it would be a tight one.

Those guys have had a great week but we got off to a great start and put a lot of pressure on them."

While disappointed in losing, the well-spoken Jacobs said his rink will leave Halifax with more confidence and look forward to another shot at capturing the national title.

"We didn't play

well as a team today," said Jacobs, "but we're still going to hold our heads high. This was the most thrilling experience for our team to date and it just makes you want to get back here and try to win this thing so bad."

The skip said the team has been flooded with e-mails from all over Northern Ontario this week including one from Al Hackner, the last skip from the region to win the Brier.

Earlier in the day, Koe knocked off Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue 6-5 in the 3-4 page playoff game to make it to the semi.

The Alberta rink will have a tall task on Sunday when they match up with Howard's Ontario team in the final. Not only is Howard undefeated this week but since the institution of the page playoff system in 1995, no team from the 3-4 game has gone on to win the national title.

Should Koe pull off the victory, he'd also be the first skip since Vic Peters in 1992 to win the Brier as a skip in his first appearance.

 

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