News Players' Championship

Koe claims spot in Princess Auto Players’ Championship final with clutch shot

TORONTO — When you only have 10 seconds left on the clock and have to make a slash double to score three for the win, it’s probably the greatest curling shot of your life. For Kevin Koe, it was Saturday.

Just another day at the office and in typical Koe fashion, the Calgary skip came through in the clutch.

Team Koe claimed a 7-6 victory over Brad Gushue and his crew from St. John’s, N.L., during the thrilling semifinals of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Koe, who only had two wins against Gushue during their previous 14 meetings, said it was great to come out on top.

“We’ve had our struggles with Brad — especially me, not even this team — for the last little while,” Koe said. “He’s kind of owning me lately, so to beat him in a big game feels really good and I’m happy for the whole squad.”

While it’ll be the 15th Grand Slam final as a skip for Koe, it’s the first for his opponent Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland. Schwaller stymied Italy’s Joël Retornaz 5-3 to advance.

“Right now, I’m a bit tired so it feels a bit overwhelming,” Schwaller said with a laugh. “But no, obviously great. It’s a first for me and a first time advancing to the semifinal even. Being in a final now feels great. I think the team is playing amazing right now, and the way we’re doing, I guess we’ll get our chances tomorrow.”

Team Koe will look to end their run with second Brad Thiessen on a high note. Thiessen has decided to step back from competitive curling to spend more time with his family.

“Hopefully, we can win one more for him,” Koe said. “It’s been a great week so far. When you get to win the Players’ Championship, it’s so hard to win, you want to do it.”

Koe has won four Grand Slam men’s championships as a skip and his most recent title victory happened at this very rink in 2018.

“We love coming here. It never disappoints, it’s always great,” Koe said. “The conditions are great, the city’s great, so obviously I’m really happy with everything right now.”

Schwaller’s victory also did a huge favour for Gushue. With Retornaz eliminated, Gushue locked up the Pinty’s Cup season points title that carries a $75,000 bonus.

Team Schwaller, who averaged 90 per cent on shooting, had a strong first half stealing back-to-back singles to start, forcing Retornaz to one in the third, then scoring a deuce in the fourth and stealing again in the fifth. Retornaz took two in the seventh but couldn’t completely close the gap without the hammer coming home.

“They’re a super strong team,” said Schwaller, who also beat Retornaz last weekend to win bronze at the world men’s curling championship. “You never know if you’ll get a super-plus game from them, you have no chance, or if you can square with them. They’re super cool guys, we’re good friends with them and I enjoy playing them.”

Meanwhile, Isabella Wranå and her Swedish squad reached their first-ever Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final in the women’s division.

Wranã reached the championship game with a 10-3 rout over Canada’s Kerri Einarson, who had already secured the Pinty’s Cup women’s title.

The loss ended a record run of six consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling finals for Einarson, whose streak started one year ago right here at the Players’ Championship.

Team Wranã will take on Silvana Tirinzoni, whose Swiss side defeated South Korea’s Eun-Ji Gim in a 6-3 set.

It’s been a wild week for Team Tirinzoni. The reigning world champions started out at 0-2 but returned to form with elimination on the line by winning six straight including three games Saturday alone from the tiebreakers through to the quarterfinals and semis.


The women’s final kicks off “Championship Sunday” at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Sportsnet One and SN NOW.

The men’s final gets underway at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet One and SN NOW.

Tickets are available at the box office and online at