NORTH BAY, Ont. — Kevin Koe capitalized on an opportunity and cashed in his golden ticket to the Boost National playoffs with a 7-4 victory over Mike McEwen during Friday’s round-robin finale at Memorial Gardens.
Koe trailed by one point in the seventh end, but McEwen left the door open and the winner of four Grand Slam titles as a skip made a short raise takeout to score a decisive four-ender.
Although that gave the hammer to McEwen for the final frame, he was unable to generate enough offence and ran out of rocks.
“it was kind of a sloppy start, and they were playing really well, so we did a good job just to hang in there and stay with them,” Koe said. “Obviously, the seventh end was a big end and that really came out of nowhere. Usually, the most we were getting there was two. Mike just made an uncharacteristic miss and we took advantage.”
Koe added with a smile, “It’s good. We didn’t want to be in a tiebreaker.”
The new Calgary crew of Koe, third Tyler Tardi, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 record.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Koe said. “We’ve got to get a lot of games under our belt, get to know each other, get familiar, tendencies and all of that to get to where we want to go. We’re encouraged with where we’re at knowing we’ve still got a lot of room to improve but it’s been a great start.”
McEwen — who now skips a Toronto-based club with third Ryan Fry, second Brent Laing and lead Jonathan Beuk — was eliminated from the tournament at 1-3.
Meanwhile, Brad Gushue’s St. John’s, N.L., club capped an undefeated 4-0 run through round-robin play with a 5-3 victory over Colton Flasch’s Saskatoon squad (2-2).
Canada’s Team Bottcher scored four in the fifth end and earned a 7-4 victory over Team Hösli from Switzerland to advance. Skip Brendan Bottcher and his Calgary-based club clinched at 3-1 while Team Hösli, with regular third Philipp Hösli skipping this week, finished group play at 2-2.
Glenn Howard (1-3) scored three with the final rock of the game as his Penetanguishene, Ont., club ended things on a high note with an 8-5 decision against Joël Retornaz (0-4) and his team from Italy.
Flasch will face Hösli during the Saturday morning tiebreaker draw to for the eighth and final spot in the men’s quarterfinals against top-seed Team Edin (4-0). The other three matches are set with Gushue going up against Team Brunner (2-2), Koe clashing with Team Dunstone (3-1) and Bottcher playing Team Dropkin (3-1).
There are three tiebreakers on the women’s side: Team Jones vs. Team Carey, Team Gim vs. Team Peterson and Team Lawes vs. Team Wranå. All six teams posted 2-2 records in the group stage.
Team Fujisawa and Team Tirinzoni (both 4-0) plus Team Homan (3-1) await the tiebreaker winners. Team Einarson vs. Team Keiser, both at 3-1, is the only women’s quarterfinal game set.
The Boost National is the first of six events on the 2022-23 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling calendar and features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … A combined $300,000 purse, split equally between the men’s and women’s divisions, is on the line. The winning teams receive $35,000 and invitations to the season-ending Kioti Tractor Champions Cup. … Points are also up for grabs in the race for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the 2022-23 season champions with a $75,000 bonus for the winning teams.