Alberta has a new king atop Canadian men’s curling.
Kevin Koe proved his worth in his first appearance at the Tim Hortons Brier, taking down previously unbeaten Glenn Howard of Ontario 6-5 in a thrilling extra-end final last night at the Metro Centre before a crowd of 7,233.
The 35-year-old skip out of Edmonton’s Saville Sports Centre picked up where provincial rivals Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey left off to claim Alberta’s seventh Brier Tankard in the past decade.
“It’s a tough province,” said Koe, a World Curling Tour star who has watched either Martin and Ferbey represent Alberta at the past 10 Briers.
“To follow up two of the great teams in Alberta, Kevin Martin and Randy Ferbey, with a win, it’s great.”
Koe stepped out of the shadows of Martin and Ferbey with two key shots.
With Ontario trailing 5-4 and holding the hammer in the 10th, he knocked aside two opposition stones to force Howard to draw for just one.
Tied 5-5 in the extra end, Koe held the hammer and had a draw to the button for the win, and with a little help from his sweepers, whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a perfect shot.
Koe, who is joined by third Blake MacDonald, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen, became the first rookie skip to win since Manitoba’s Vic Peters in 1992 and the first to take the crown via the 3-4 Page playoff game.
“It’s been a long time coming to even get to a Brier,” said Koe, who beat Ferbey in the provincial final while Martin stepped aside to focus on the Olympics.
“To come through in our first one and to beat Glenn Howard, one of the best in the world, who we’ve never beaten, it just makes it feel that much better.”
The 47-year-old Howard, competing at his 12th Brier, had three previous titles and one as skip in 2007. He went 12-0 before the final and conceded Koe made two “unbelievable shots.”
“I can’t describe it ... It’s crap,” Howard said.
“I’m not a happy camper,” he added.
Koe wins the first prize of $40,000 and advances to the world championship in Italy.
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