Former champions Glenn Howard, representing Ontario, and Alberta's Kevin Koe are going to meet Sunday night in the final of the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier.
Koe, the 2010 champion, led his Calgary-based foursome to an 8-6 victory over Manitoba's Rob Fowler in a playoff game Saturday night inside the Credit Union Centre.
"It's been a battle this week and we've had to grind out a lot of wins,'' said Koe. "It's been a struggle some days but we won two tough games today.''
The game swung in the eighth end. After one of Fowler's rocks went off-course because of some debris, Koe was left with a nose-hit takeout to count four and open a 7-4 lead. Fowler rebounded with a two-point ninth end but Koe, facing two Manitoba counters, calmly threw a nose-hit takeout for the final point.
"The only consolation is we played our A-plus game tonight and got a bad break,'' said Fowler, whose team is from Brandon.
"It's a tough way to lose. You go out and play your best game, you're really in a position to win the game and bad things happen.''
Howard has won a Canadian men's curling championship once as a skip, in 2007, and two other times as a third with his brother Russ Howard. Howard's team is from Coldwater.
Ontario qualified for the final by finishing atop the round-robin with a 10-1 record and defeating Manitoba in a Page Playoff game Friday.
Alberta teams have won 25 championships and Ontario rinks have won nine. Manitoba teams have won a Brier-leading 27 times, including last year when Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton prevailed.
The final is slated for 8 p.m. ET Sunday.
The third-place game between Manitoba and Jamie Koe of the Northwest/Yukon Territories is slated for 11 a.m. ET Sunday. Both games will be televised by TSN.
Koe's team from Yellowknife was the first Territories squad to make the playoffs; after finishing fourth it lost an elimination game to Alberta, skipped by his older brother Kevin Koe, on Saturday afternoon.