KOE CAN CRACK A SMILE AF­TER SUN­DAY NIGHT

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

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - TED WY­MAN Twyman@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/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 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-year-old 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 mean­ing­less game left in the round robin against reign­ing world cham­pion Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., on Fri­day night.

Gushue (5-2) clinched sec­ond place Thurs­day night with an 8-5 win over Steve Lay­cock of Saska­toon and will have ham­mer in Satur­day’s semi­fi­nal.

That win also elim­i­nated all teams with four or more losses, in­clud­ing 2014 Olympic goldmedal­list Brad Ja­cobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“It feels pretty good, es­pe­cially af­ter the start to the week, los­ing our first and then hav­ing a pick to lose an­other early on,” Gushue said. “It’s good po­si­tion­ing. It still gives us a chance and I feel like we’re play­ing bet­ter and bet­ter and tonight was our best game so far. We’re feel­ing good go­ing into the play­offs.”

Three teams are in con­tention for the re­main­ing play­off spot. Win­nipeg’s Mike McEwen and Reid Car­ruthers are both 4-3, while Edmonton’s Bren­dan Bottcher is 3-3.

McEwen plays Bottcher in the morn­ing and Car­ruthers plays Bottcher Fri­day night. A tiebreaker could be nec­es­sary when all the games are done. Bottcher beat Toronto’s John Ep­ping 7-6 in an ex­tra end Thurs­day af­ter­noon, while McEwen lost 6-3 to Ja­cobs on Thurs­day night. Car­ruthers beat Ja­cobs 9-5 in the morn­ing.

“We might throw Stayin’ Alive on in the van on the way back to the house,” Car­ruthers said. “We can get to 5-3 and we might have a sniff.”

McEwen has lost his three games to Koe, Gushue and Ja­cobs and has had trou­ble in the last few games.

“I would have said at the start of the week that at three losses you might not con­trol your own des­tiny, so it’s nice that we do and we’re not hop­ing for some­body else to lose,” said McEwen, who will clinch at least a tiebreaker with a win over Bottcher.

On the women’s side, Cal­gary’s Chelsea Carey (6-0) and Ot­tawa’s Rachel Ho­man (6-1) are as­sured of at least a tiebreaker.

Carey is one win away from clinch­ing top spot af­ter she pulled a win out of a train wreck of a game against Julie Tip­pin on Thurs­day af­ter­noon to im­prove to 6-0.

Carey fell down 4-0 in the sec­ond end and was down 8-4 af­ter eight. She 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 (2-5) in the af­ter­noon. A win in ei­ther game will clinch first place.

Ho­man beat Val Sweet­ing of Edmonton 7-5 on Thurs­day night to clinch a tiebreaker, but she’ll need Carey to lose twice to have a shot at first place.

“We feel great,” Ho­man said. “We’ve had to make big shots for the win, we’ve had to bat­tle back. We’ve had to win a lot of dif­fer­ent ways and we love it.”

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. Both Jones and McCarville can still get to 6-2, so the play­off pic­ture re­mains un­set­tled.

“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.”

Jones and Ho­man play on the fi­nal draw Fri­day night in a game that could have ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions.

“It’ll prob­a­bly be fun, I would think,” Jones said. “The crowd doesn’t bug us.”

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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