Calgary’s Kevin Koe did it the hard way again.
After struggling a little to make the final game, Koe emerged with his second Canadian men’s curling championship, after a dominating 10-5 win over John Morris and British Columbia.
“That’s the way we kind of do it sometimes,” Koe said. “We can’t seem to get firing on all cylinders all the time.”
Koe could have finished first at the Tim Hortons Brier this week but he lost his last round-round game to Quebec and created a three-way tie for top spot with B.C. and Manitoba.
The tiebreaking formula gave B.C. hammer and choice of rocks in the 1-2 Page playoff game, which they won.
Koe then had to play Quebec again, after they beat Manitoba in the 3-4 game to get into the final. He’s used to it, since he had to fight even harder to win his first title in 2010 when he came up from the 3-4 game.
Alberta capitalized on B.C.’s mistakes to score three big three-enders. If not for the needs of television, the handshakes would likely have come in eight but they played nine ends.
It was a crushing end to a Cinderella week for Kamloops native son Jim Cotter, who throws fourth stones for B.C. and had been solid all week but made some of those mistakes that cost his team the game Sunday.
“Jimmy had some uncharacteristic misses there and we were fortunate and when it did happen, we really capitalized,” said Koe. “The first three was the big one.”
The numbers told the tale. Koe shot 92 per cent, Cotter 82 and B.C. skip and third stone Morris was at 72 per cent.
“We just missed a couple of too many shots early,” said Morris. “We were just a little bit fooled by the ice.”
This is the second loss in the big game in four months for the Morris-Cotter rink. They also lost the final at the Olympic trials to Brad Jacobs in December in Winnipeg.
“Whether it’s in front of your home fans or in front of Winnipeg fans or wherever, it’s no fun,” said Cotter. “Obviously you want to win, but that’s curling, that’s the way it goes.
“They were bang on. They were making everything. It’s tough to come back from that.”
As for what the future holds, he couldn’t say.
“I really haven’t thought too much about the future. . . I guess over the next few weeks or what not we’ll reflect a little bit and kind of see where things are at and go from there.”
Uncertainty also hangs over Alberta, which, with the win, is now only one behind Manitoba’s record 27 Brier victories.
Second Carter Rycroft, whose wife is pregnant, has said he’s taking a year off curling and the win didn’t change his mind. He was also named the most valuable player and shot 96 per cent in the final game.
“This is it as far as me not curling next year,” he said emphatically.
Koe doesn’t know what he future holds either.
“I don’t know what will happen with that, we haven’t talked about it, we haven’t even thought about,” he said.
“Now’s the time to celebrate this win and we’ll look forward to (being) Team Canada (at the world championship) in China and whatever happens, happens.”
Canadian Curling Association rules require that Team Canada retain at least three players to return to the Brier.
Next year in Calgary is the first year Team Canada will automatically get a berth in the Brier. It’s also the first year the bottom finishers will have to play their way in.
Over the last three years, that’s Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as new entrants Nunavut and a separate Yukon team.
The Brier went well for B.C. until Sunday night, although they finished in a three-way 9-2 tie with Manitoba and Alberta at the top of he round robin.
They beat Alberta in the 1-2 game to move straight to the final and opened well with a deuce in the first end, setting the sellout home-town crowd into a frenzy.
But Alberta responded with a three in the second end after Morris was heavy and rolled through.
Cotter did the same thing in four when he flashed on a freeze attempt, had to draw for one and accomplished that only by a slim margin.
In five, with rocks scattered around the 12, Cotter lost his shooter, letting Koe gently tap a B.C. rock back to score another three.
A final three in the sixth end made it 9-4.
Earlier in the day, Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton took the bronze medal winning 9-5 in nine ends after scoring two in the first and stealing two in the second on a missed Quebec runback.
But both Stoughton and Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard said it was a game they don’t even think should be part of the Brier.
“I’ll try to be nice, but this game shouldn’t exist,” said Menard. “It’s useless.”