It will be Kevin Koe of Calgary versus Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in Sunday’s men’s final at the 2018 Home Hardware Canada Cup after Koe rallied for a 7-5 win over Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., in Saturday’s semifinal.
Two uncharacteristic misses by Gushue, and a refusal to go away by Koe and his Calgary teammates, led to a stunning reversal in the game, turning a 5-1, sixth-end Gushue lead into a Koe victory.
The Newfoundland and Labrador skip and reigning two-time Tim Hortons Brier champion had a chance to put the game away in the eighth end and a chance to win it in the 10th … and both times he failed to do so.
A straight-forward Gushue draw to the button in the eighth sailed wide, giving Koe and his team a steal of two, a 6-6 tie and new life.
“Obviously my missed draw in eight was what cost us the game,” Gushue said later. “I threw it a little heavy… it slid a little further than I thought. But I have two of the best sweepers in the world and I have to use them, so that’s totally on me.”
Koe was heading off for a washroom break at the time but knowing nothing is safe on ice, he was keeping his eye on Gushue’s shot.
“I was actually peeking through the curtains,” he admitted. “I never expected him to miss, but I heard them say it was heavy … so I kept my eye on it. I don’t know the last time I’ve seen him do that, especially against me in a big game, he doesn’t miss those. So that got us back to even and we played a great nine and 10 … played a good back half.”
Koe, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch and lead Ben Hebert struggled early, giving up two in the second and trailing 5-1 at the break after Gushue, third Brett Gallant, second Mark Nichols, lead Geoff Walker and coach Jules Owchar stole a deuce in five.
Koe, a former Tim Hortons Brier and World champion, said it was a missed line call by himself and Neufeld on his final stone that resulted in the steal. They called off the sweepers and his rock curled hard and turned a chance at a steal into a deuce for Gushue.
“Me and B.J. just said sorry to the guys for screwing up that line call,” said Koe. “I make that, it’s guarantee one, maybe two steal and he’s in tough shape. I threw it perfect, screwed up the line call so that was frustrating. But we’ve been good hanging in there all week.”
And they did it again Saturday, scoring two in the seventh, stealing two in eight and singles in the ninth and 10th ends.
The Koe foursome will now play Jacobs, whom they lost 8-4 to in the opening round-robin draw.
The 2018 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues on Saturday with the women’s semifinal at 7 p.m. On Sunday, the women’s final is at 2 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m. (all times CST).