by Martin Gavin
Special to Northern News Services
It’s been a slow start for Jamie Koe and his NWT foursome at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ont.
As of Monday, the rink had yet to pick up their first victory, dropping their first three games, but that changed on Tuesday as Koe and company defeated Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin by a score of 9-7 to snag their first win.
Stolen points played a huge role for Koe as he managed to steal three in the fifth end to take a 7-3 lead and stole again in the 10th end to secure the win.
“This is a great field and you have to play well,” said Koe. “We have been playing well but this is the Brier and you need to play at the top of your game.”
In the opening draw, Koe was up against the Steve Laycock, skip of the champions from B.C. The Yellowknife team held strong with the game tied through seven ends. Koe forced Laycock to one in the eighth end and blanked the ninth, setting up a 10th end in which, with a score of two, the NWT would open the Brier with a win.
When the last rock settled, Koe was unable to convert the deuce for the victory and actually gave up a steal of one to lose 6-4.
“Jamie’s team really shows the depth of the field at the Brier this year … there are no easy games,” said Laycock following his win.
Sunday afternoon brought this year’s chapter of the Koe vs. Koe match-up. Winless in the eight previous matches, Jamie had mixed feelings heading into the game.
“He is my brother and I always want to see him win this thing,” said Jamie in a pre-event interview, “Once I get out there, my competitive side will kick in and it’s game on.”
Kevin shares the supportive family approach.
“This is the only time I am not looking around hoping Jamie is winning,” he said.
The game started out poorly for little brother. Dropping a pair in the first end and giving up a steal of one in the second, Jamie found himself behind his big brother again. Jamie was forced to take one in the third end as his brother kept throwing up counters.
In the fifth end, big brother scored another pair, putting the Yellowknife foursome into a big hole they were unable to climb out of.
“Kevin doesn’t say much but it’s hard playing family but Kevin is all business in this game,” said Ben Hebert, Kevin Koe’s lead, in a post-game interview.
“Jamie is a competitor and this is nine straight (wins) to Kevin … that will make things quiet at the dinner table,” commented TSN’s Russ Howard
“Maybe we will discuss it over a beer later in the week at the (Brier) patch, now he just needs to win this.” said Jamie following the game.
The road got no easier after that, though.
Next up was the wild card team of Mike McEwen of Manitoba on Monday morning. McEwen earned the 16th and final spot in the Brier after beating Glenn Howard of Ontario in a sudden-death play-in game the Friday before the official opening of the Brier.
“What do you say about Jamie? He just kind of hangs around the whole game, waiting for a mistake.” said McEwen prior to the game.
The game itself was close and actually became an unscheduled televised game for the national audience. Down one with last rock in the seventh, Koe looked good to take the victory but the game turned with McEwen stealing in the eighth and ninth. That was enough as Jamie offered his hand in concession.
Moving forward in the week, the NWT will have games against Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Yukon and Ontario.
“There are no soft spots in this field … everyone is a champion,” said Koe.