Two years ago, Jamie Koe came within an eyelash of skipping the NWT to the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship title.
This year, he’s back and determined to lead his rink to victory.
The latest edition of the national championship began last Saturday in Swan Lake, Man. Koe and his rink of Kerry Galusha, Brad Chorostkowski and Megan Koehler jumped out of the gate quickly in its first two games on Monday, beating Saskatchewan by a score of 7-4 before going on to a 6-5 extra-end win over Alberta.
Day two on Tuesday was also a winning one as the rink started with a 9-5 victory over the host province before beating Nunavut in a battle of the territories, 8-2.
They sat atop the standings in Pool A with a record of 4-0 when play began on Wednesday, but all of the good feelings from the first two days of action went downhill quickly in their opening game against Newfoundland and Labrador.
Newfoundland and Labrador opened the game by scoring two with last rock and then proceeded to steal points in ends two through four to open a 6-0 lead at the halfway mark. Koe came back with two in the fifth but a four-spot from Newfoundland and Labrador was enough for Koe to shake hands, giving the NWT their first loss, 10-2.
Koe said nothing went right for the foursome in that game.
“I think I forgot to wake up for that one,” he joked. “We couldn’t make anything. I switched rocks for my delivery and made some shots after that but just too little, too late and just wanted to shake it off as best as we could.”
The NWT was back in action later in the afternoon against Quebec in their final round-robin game of the bonspiel. They got behind early, 3-0, but battled back and eventually managed to send the game into an extra end. Without the hammer, Koe tried to set up the end to steal the win but couldn’t as Quebec scored a single to win it, 5-4.
Koe said they were getting things set up with guards out front of the rings but Quebec managed to spill everything.
“They had a triple-peel (takeout) and that set them up for the win,” he said. “It’s tough enough to set up for the steal and when they’re making shots like that one, it’s even tougher.”
Even with the tough day on Wednesday, they still made the playoffs. Koe’s rink started play in the championship pool on Thursday against the top four teams from the other pool to see who makes the final four. The top teams will play for all the marbles on Saturday.
The trick about this portion of the draw is that only wins and losses against teams that made the playoffs from their pool carry over. Because they lost to Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador but beat Saskatchewan, Koe’s rink begin this phase with a record of one win and two losses.
Still, Koe said getting to the championship pool was mission accomplished and he’s ready for the next battle.
“Losing those two games hurt our seeding a little bit but we’re still there,” he said. “We’ve been waiting to play the other pool and we’ll see how that goes.”