Koe one win from berth at Olympics

Un­de­feated Al­berta skip ad­mits he might show emo­tion if he earns Olympic berth

Regina Leader-Post - - FRONT PAGE - TED WY­MAN

Kevin Koe prom­ises he’ll get ex­cited if he wins just one more game at the Cana­dian Olympic curl­ing tri­als, as long as it comes on Sun­day night.

“Oh yeah, yeah, I would think so,” Koe said with a smile. “Hope­fully we find out and you guys all find out.”

Koe, who rarely shows his emo­tions on the ice, is play­ing like a cold-blooded as­sas­sin at the tri­als and that has put him a win away from a berth in the 2018 Olympic Win­ter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Koe’s Cal­gary team clinched first place in the men’s stand­ings, a bye into Sun­day’s fi­nal at the Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre and ham­mer in that cham­pi­onship game with a 7-4 win over John Mor­ris of Ver­non B.C., on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

“Ob­vi­ously that was the big goal and hope­fully we’ve got one more in us,” said Koe, a 42-yearold who has won three Cana­dian cham­pi­onships and two world ti­tles, but has never been an Olympian.

“Have we played our best game yet? Hope­fully not. Hope­fully we’ve got our best game in us still. But we’re play­ing good and mak­ing the big shots at the end.”

The team’s record is now 7-0 with one game left in the round robin against reign­ing world cham­pion Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., on Fri­day night. The game was es­sen­tially mean­ing­less for Koe, but it will surely mean some­thing to Gushue, who was 4-2 head­ing into a Thurs­day night game against Steve Lay­cock of Saska­toon.

“I don’t think we’ll be ap­proach­ing it as a mean­ing­less game,” Koe said. “It’ll still be a pretty big game for us. Af­ter to­mor­row we’re go­ing to have two days off, so it’s big for us to come out and play a good game just to keep our con­fi­dence go­ing. Brad is play­ing good and get­ting bet­ter, so it will be a good test.”

A dog­fight is shap­ing up for the sec­ond and third play­off spots on the men’s side.

Head­ing into the evening draw Thurs­day, Gushue and Win­nipeg’s Mike McEwen were tied at 4-2, while Win­nipeg’s Reid Car­ruthers was hang­ing tough at 4-3.

Edmonton’s Bren­dan Bottcher beat Toronto’s John Ep­ping

7-6 in an ex­tra end Thurs­day af­ter­noon to im­prove to 3-3, which keeps him in the mix with two games to come on the fi­nal day — against McEwen and Car­ruthers.

Even the teams at 2-4 — 2014 Olympic cham­pion Brad Ja­cobs and Lay­cock — were still alive as a five-way tie for sec­ond place at 4-4 was tech­ni­cally pos­si­ble.

“We might throw Stayin’ Alive on in the van on the way back to the house,” Car­ruthers said af­ter a 9-5 win over Ja­cobs. “We can get to 5-3 and we might have a sniff, but there’s still some real good teams that have to lose.”

On the women’s side, Cal­gary’s Chelsea Carey is as­sured of at least a tiebreaker and is one win away from clinch­ing top spot af­ter she pulled a win out of a train wreck of a game against Julie Tip­pin Thurs­day af­ter­noon to im­prove to 6-0. Carey fell down 4-0 in the sec­ond end and was down 8-4 af­ter eight, but scored two in the ninth with ham­mer and then stole three in the 10th to win 9-8.

“That’s a huge break for us,” Carey said. “You never ex­pect to win a game when that’s the score com­ing home. You hope to steal, best case, two and then you’ve got to do it again in the ex­tra end. Def­i­nitely lucky to pull that one out, but we’ll take it.”

Carey plays Krista McCarville, who is still very much alive at

4-2, Fri­day morn­ing and then takes on Michelle En­glot (2-4) in the af­ter­noon. A win in ei­ther game will clinch first place.

Ot­tawa’s Rachel Ho­man was

5-1 head­ing into Thurs­day’s late draw (she was play­ing 3-3

Val Sweet­ing), but her loss was against Carey, so she would need a bet­ter record to fin­ish in first place.

Win­nipeg ’s Jen­nifer Jones, the 2014 Olympic gold medal­list who had her 19-game win­ning streak stopped Wed­nes­day, fell to 5-2 Thurs­day with a 7-3 loss to McCarville. Jones and Ho­man play on the fi­nal draw Fri­day night in a game that could have ma­jor play­off im­pli­ca­tions.

“It’ll prob­a­bly be fun, I would think,” Jones said. “The crowd doesn’t bug us. You go to the Olympics and the crowd is ba­nanas and that’s what it’s all about. Whether they’re cheer­ing for you or cheer­ing for the other peo­ple, you kind of pre­tend they’re cheer­ing for you.”

McCarville’s re­main­ing games are against Carey and Sweet­ing and she will earn at least a tiebreaker with two wins.

“We want to keep that mo­men­tum go­ing, keep that good feel­ing in­side go­ing,” McCarville said. “We just play bet­ter when our backs are against the wall. We know three losses may not get us in and we have to come out here and leave it all on the line.”

PHO­TOS: ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Cal­gary skip Kevin Koe has been his usual stoic self dur­ing an un­de­feated run thus far through the Cana­dian Olympic curl­ing tri­als in Ot­tawa.

Cal­gary’s Chelsea Carey is un­beaten at the Cana­dian Olympic curl­ing tri­als af­ter a wild 9-8 vic­tory over Julie Tip­pin on Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

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