Score-Board
in other news...   


Team Koe wins men's championship at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup

Sunday Dec 06 2015
by Curling Canada Release

The champ has fallen to a former champion. Kevin Koe of Calgary coolly delivered a double takeout to score three to finish off Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 7-3 and capture the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, men’s title in Grande Prairie, Alta., Sunday.

 Koe last won the event in 2008 while McEwen was looking to retain the title he won in Camrose, Alta., last year. But with Koe’s team of third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert curling 90 per cent as a team it was just too tough.

“We were always in control, never down and we’re always pretty good when we do that,” said Koe.

 The team picked up a total of $21,500 — $14,000 for winning the event and $1,500 for each of its five round-robin victories. They’ll also represent North America at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas Jan. 14-17, and they get the first men’s berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials to be held in Ottawa Dec. 2-10, 2017 — the event that will decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“More than the wins, the Continental Cup and the Trials, which was really nice, it was big for us as a team. We had high expectations last year and probably didn’t quite live up to them and we’ve had a great year this year. Hopefully it just keeps getting better,” said Koe, who finished the game scored at 92 per cent.

 The Koe team’s prowess really showed in the ninth, and what turned out to be the final, end when Koe a dramatic skinny double takeout to score a crushing three.

“He put on a clinic out there tonight. Kevin always plays good in big games,” said Hebert. “He’s always been a big-game player. Tonight he was our leader and got the job done. When your skip plays like that it’s tough to lose. I’m super excited, I got latched onto the right guy that’s for sure.”

Even Koe’s opponent was impressed.

“They played pretty much near perfect,” said McEwen, whose team takes home $9,000, plus $7,500 for its five round-robin wins. “We kind of put the game on the line in nine. A couple of half shots gave them the deuce to give them the lead on us (3-1 in the fifth end), and they played pretty much near perfect after that. Other than us playing perfect we didn’t have much options to win there.

“That’s what we did to them in the round-robin. I made everything and they couldn’t beat us. B.J. (vice-skip B.J. Neufeld) and I and the boys, we played amazing, and that’s what it was like tonight. You’ve got to tip your hat to them.”

Koe believes the team’s best play is yet to come.

“That was a pretty good game there, but I think we’ve got a long way to go. It’s early in our second year, and the more big events we play in the better it is for us,” said Koe.

 This will be Koe’s fifth kick at representing Canada at the Olympics. At the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, he won only two of seven round-robin games.

“We put this team together with the goal to do well at those Trials (in 2017),” said Koe. “Obviously for me personally the last one was disappointing, but they’re tough to win. They’re the hardest event to win. They’re a couple of years away and we’ll just keep working and hoping we’ll do well when the time comes.”

Despite the loss, McEwen felt positive about the team’s play throughout the week.

“We probably played our best curling we have all year. Even in our other event wins, this was better. The last four games in a row that we played here was the best string we’ve put together, so that feels good playing forward,” said McEwen, who will be looking to win a Manitoba provincial title so he can play in his first Tim Hortons Brier, which will be held this year in Ottawa March 5-13.

“Before you know it, it’ll be February. One of the best teams in Canada, Reid Carruthers (of Winnipeg will be there), so it will be hard fought battle with that field.”

Two of the first three ends were blanked as both teams went about the game in business-like fashion, neither gaining an advantage. Koe surged ahead 3-1 when his team was able to split the house midway through the fifth end to score two and go ahead 3-1.

 The Koe crew kept the pressure up splitting the house again in the sixth end forcing McEwen to draw to the four-foot for one while facing three Koe counters to go to the seventh end down 3-2 without the hammer.

 The seventh saw some exceptional shot making from both skips. With his first shot in the end, McEwen made a double that left his team sitting four. Koe responded by getting through a small opening for a freeze on the button to be shot rock. But then McEwen raised on of his own rocks to knock the shot rock away and sit five forcing Koe to repeat his previous shot just to score one and take a 4-2 lead.

 Koe kept picking McEwen’s rocks out in the eighth forcing the Winnipegger to take one and trail 4-3.

 Grande Prairie will be back in the spotlight later this season, with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts being played at Revolution Place, Feb. 20-28. Tickets are available at www.curling.ca/2016scotties/tickets/
 
**
Sunday #1: Team Homan claims women's title at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup - Rachel Homan is off to Las Vegas next month, But, even better, she and her team get to stay home in Ottawa in early December 2017. Homan avenged a loss to Edmonton/s Val Sweeting in the championship game of the 2014 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, by beating the Edmonton team 8-7 in an extra end in the 2015 final in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Sunday.

 The victory meant Homan’s team of third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle picked up $24,000 for winning their sixth event of the season — the $14,000 top prize, plus $2,000 for each of their round-robin victories here.

 But there were also more spoils going to the victor — most notably, the first direct-entry berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials to be held in their hometown of Ottawa. That will determine Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

 As well, with the win Homan’s crew will be part of the North American team at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas Jan. 14-17.

“Unbelievable,” said Homan of winning the Home Hardware Canada Cup. “I’ve never been so happy to win a tournament in my life.

“Getting to the Trials is our No. 1 goal and to accomplish that this early, we tried really hard to get there, but you never know. In this sport anything can happen so we’re excited to be able to clinch that win.”

Sweeting gambled but it didn’t pay off. The result is that she won’t be making her first trip to Vegas, despite holding a 6-4 lead after six ends.

“We took advantages early when we could but we just made a couple of mistakes,” said Sweeting.

 Sweeting got strong play from her teammates, especially third Lori Olson-Johns and second Dana Ferguson, along with lead Rachelle Brown. Olson-Johns made big shots in the third, sixth and eighth ends.

 Ferguson’s best shot came in the seventh when she cleared two Homan guards sitting side by side out front and got a bonus of picking Homan’s shot rock off the button to leave Sweeting’s team lying two.

 Sweeting, however, ended up have a chance to blank the end and retain the hammer with a 5-4 lead, but she stuck in the rings with her final shot and took one.

 But that’s when the game turned after the Alberta team had controlled most of the earlier ends. Sweeting had a chance to blank and instead her shooter stuck around forcing her to take one and surrender the hammer leading 6-4.

“If I make my blank in seven we’re in much better position to win that game,” Sweeting said. “It wasn’t bad that we took one there, we still had a two-point lead, but just a couple of half shots by me and we paid for it.”

Then in the eighth, Homan, with her final shot, knocked two Sweeting stones off the four-foot to score two for the 6-6 tie. They went ahead 7-6 in the ninth when, after Homan buried her last shot, Sweeting went for two with an angle-raise takeout instead of drawing for one. But she was wide with the throw and gave up a steal.

“I felt pretty confident (about making the shot) because I knew what that spot would do because that’s where I tried my blank attempt and it didn’t roll as much as I thought it would,” Sweeting said. “We liked it out of my hand. It seemed to straighten out as the game went on and we just got caught because it ran straight out of my hand and we flashed it.”

Homan cleaned house with her final shot in the 10th, leaving Sweeting with only one option, draw to the eight-foot to force an extra end. In the 11th, Homan’s team kept it clean and she calmly drew for the win with her final shot and then was enveloped by her teammates in a congratulatory group hug.

“They made some great shots and we had a couple of bad luck [shots], but that’s OK, we stayed with it and thankfully we got a win in the extra [end],” said Homan.

**
Saturday #2: Team Sweeting to battle Team Homan for women's title at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup - Revenge was sweet for Val Sweeting Saturday afternoon.  The Edmonton skip responded from being dispatched to a tiebreaker by Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones on Friday to book a spot in Sunday’s women’s final at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, in Grande Prairie, Alta.

 Sweeting defeated Jones 5-3 in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal before a pro-Sweeting crowd at Revolution Place. Team Sweeting will play Rachel Homan’s Ottawa-based team, which ran up a 5-1 record to finish first in the round-robin, in Sunday’s women’s final (11 a.m. MT).

“They’re (Homan’s team) playing well, but I thought we had really great day today so regardless of how well their team is playing we have to make our shots. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and make our shots the best we can and see where it falls,” said Sweeting.

 She, third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown will be seeking their second straight Home Hardware Canada Cup title, having won the 2014 version in Camrose, Alta.

 Sweeting took a slightly circuitous route to the semifinal. Heading into Friday’s final draw she was sitting pretty in second place with a 4-1 record. But Jones with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen snatched the semifinal spot away from her by blitzing Sweeting 9-2.

 That put her in a second-place tie with Jones and Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., but Jones got the nod because they had the best cumulative pre-game draw to the button for the first-end hammer during the round-robin. Sweeting then took care of business by beating Middaugh 7-3 in a tiebreaker Saturday morning to determine who would meet Jones.

“(Friday) night’s game looked really bad on the scoreboard and stat wise but I didn’t feel like we were that off, I just think we got caught up in the paths,” said Sweeting. “There were a couple where it was good out of my hand clean, but it just didn’t do what we thought it would. Knowing we were throwing the right weight at the broom it helped that it just wasn’t a completely flat game. We just kind of brushed it off and forgot about it.”

In the semifinal, Sweeting just had to make a draw to the eight-foot in the 10th end to win.

“They played great and we just couldn’t get anything going,” said Jones. “We just kind of gave them an out every end and they made it. They played great and you can’t give a team outs and that’s what we did. At the end of the day we’re happy with our event and hopefully we’ll keep that going to the end of the year.”

Jones, the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s champion, will be back in Grande Prairie in late February for the 2016 Scotties as Team Canada.

“We’re thrilled to be coming back. Hopefully the ice will be as good as it was this week because it was fantastic,” said Jones.

 Homan and Sweeting, meanwhile, will battle for the top prize of $14,000, in addition to direct-entry berths to the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa — the event that will decided Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea — and trip to Las Vegas to be part of Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming Jan. 14-17.

 The men’s semifinal tonight (6:30) will feature Calgary’s Kevin Koe crew against John Epping of Toronto. Epping got there with a 7-5 win over another Calgary skip Pat Simmons, went for the win on his final shot in the 10th end trailing 6-5 but just missed on a skinny double takeout.

“It was a really, really well-played game, it was just fun to be out there,” said Epping, whose team consists of third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March and will be looking to keep the momentum going tonight.

“We have to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We’re communicating well and we’re really throwing the rock well right now. If we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance if we can hang in there physically and mentally.

 To reach the final, however, Epping will need to win five consecutive games, three in his final round-robin encounters, the tiebreaker and tonight’s semifinal — in the space of about 32 hours.

“It’s pretty wild when you think about it because there’s a spot in the Trials and a trip to Vegas. It’s going to be a crazy grind, and I’m sure after whatever game we win or lose to be done it will be pretty crazy when we look back on it,” said Epping.

 Deuces were wild in the first half of the game. Each skip used the hammer to score two twice – Epping in the first and third ends, Simmons in the second and fifth – while the fourth end was blanked for a 4-4 tie.

 Simmons made a super double with his final rock in the seventh to end the string of deuces forcing Epping to hit and stick for a single.

 In the eighth, 12 rocks straddled the centre line, nine in the house, when Simmons went to launch his last shot but it sailed through and he had to settle for a single to make it 5-5. Epping then had to break up a mess around the button just to score one with his final shot in the ninth. 

**
Saturday #1: Team McEwen headed to men's final at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup - Mike McEwen took care of his own business, and then he watched gratefully as Kevin Koe did him a favour on an adjacent sheet on Saturday morning at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta.

 The end result is that McEwen and his Winnipeg team - third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld - are one victory away from successfully defending their title at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

 McEwen cruised to a 10-4 win over Saskatoon's Steve Laycock (2-5) to close out round-robin play on Saturday morning to finish with a 5-2 record.

 One sheet over, Koe was dispatching reigning Tim Hortons Brier champion Pat Simmons 7-4 in an all-Calgary battle.

 The results left McEwen and Koe tied at 5-2, but McEwen got the bye to Sunday's 5 p.m. MT final thanks to his 5-4 round-robin win over Koe.

"Even if I don't sleep well tonight, there's plenty of time to nap on Sunday, right?" said a smiling McEwen, who will carry a three-game win streak into the final in search of back-to-back Home Hardware Canada Cup titles, following last year's win in Camrose, Alta. "I really like how the guys are playing. The ice has matured, it's gotten better every day, so we're really looking forward to Sunday. I know it's higher stakes than last year (with a Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials berth on the line), but I think it'll feel pretty equal to last year."

McEwen took control early, scoring four in the second end, and never looked back against Laycock, and will carry plenty of momentum into the gold-medal game.

"What happened yesterday for us (two solid wins) carried through to today for us," said McEwen. "It was really nice not to have a letdown against a team that was playing spoiler. We had a great game, we did our part, and things kind of worked out on the other sheet for us."

Behind McEwen, three teams are still alive in the bid to win not only a $14,000 top prize, not only a trip to Las Vegas to be part of Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming Jan. 14-17, but the biggest prize of all: a trip to the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa.

 Koe will play in Saturday's men's semifinal (6:30 p.m. MT); his team trailed 3-1 through six ends, but cracked a three-ender in the seventh to turn the game around.

"It was a bad start for us; they came out and played really well and we kind of weathered the storm and some really big breaks went our way," said Team Koe second Brent Laing. "Ten ends is a long time, crazy things happen in big events in curling, and we've been on both sides of games like that. A big part of winning that game is the afternoon off and getting some rest. Every game has been a grind, so the afternoon off is big for us."

Team Koe's opponent will be decided in a third-place tiebreaker, Saturday at 1:30 p.m., between Simmons and Toronto's John Epping.

 Epping came up big on Saturday morning with a 9-4 win over Winnipeg's Reid Carruthers (2-5), scoring five in the sixth end to keep his playoff hopes alive.

"I'm happy all the way around," said Epping. "Coming into the week, we just wanted to be around on the weekend and give ourselves a chance to win this. It's nice to finish with a bang, get off the ice a couple ends early, and give ourselves a bit of rest because it could be a long day."

In the other men's game, Brad Gushue of St. John's turned back Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 8-5. Both teams finished out of the playoff at 3-4.

 Meanwhile, defending women's champ Val Sweeting of Edmonton is still alive in her quest for back-to-back Home Hardware Canada Cup titles.

 Sweeting, backed up by third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson, lead Rachelle Brown and coach Garry Coderre, turned back Sherry Middaugh (Coldwater, Ont.) 7-3 in women's tiebreaker action on Saturday morning.

 The win lands Team Sweeting in Saturday?s 1:30 p.m. semifinal against reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

 A fifth-end deuce, followed by a steal of one in the sixth, were the deciding factors in Sweeting's victory.

"We're pretty happy - obviously, you like to avoid tiebreakers, but we're happy to still have a chance. It was a good battle out there today and we were fortunate to come out on top," said Sweeting, who lost to Jones in last season's Scotties final in Moose Jaw, Sask., and lost again to Jones, 9-3, to close out the round robin here on Friday night. "Last night, I thought I was throwing them pretty close and not getting anywhere close to the result we wanted, and kind of looking like a fool. But that's OK. They played well, they're a really good team, and we're going to have to be sharp."

The semifinal winner will take on Ottawa's Rachel Homan in the women?s final on Sunday at 11 a.m.

 Teams Simmons and Jones have already qualified to be part of Team North America at the World Financial Group Continental Cup by virtue of their victories at the Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts last season. So if they win in Sunday's here, the Team North America berths will go to the highest non-qualified teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System - Gushue on the men's side and Homan on the women?s side.

**
Friday #2: Team Jones clinches semifinal berth at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup - What a difference 48 hours makes.  It was only two nights previous when the situation for Jennifer Jones’s team from Winnipeg didn’t look good. Team Jones lost its opening two games on Wednesday at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing. But by Friday evening she was all smiles.

 After that opening day, Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went on to win four consecutive games to finish second in the round-robin and advance to the semifinal Saturday (1:30 p.m. MT). Jones completed her turnaround by downing defending champ Val Sweeting of Edmonton 9-3 in Friday’s evening draw.

“Yeah, we’re pretty happy with that,” Jones said with a laugh. “We’re thrilled where we’re at. We always want to be playing on the weekend which is what we’re doing.”

Although Jones finished tied at 4-2 with Sweeting and Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., who knocked off previously unbeaten Rachel Homan of Ottawa 6-4 in the final round-robin draw, Jones got the nod because her team had the best cumulative distance in the pre-game, last-shot draws to the button of the three.

“We’re pretty happy we rattled off a few wins in a row when we needed to and we’re playing well heading into the playoffs, and we’re looking forward to (Saturday),” said Jones.

“We’ve been playing like that the last few games, playing well and making some big shots when we need to, but it’s a new day tomorrow and we know we’re going to play a tough team and we’re going to have to play our very best to have a chance to win.”

Sweeting and Middaugh will play a tiebreaker Saturday (8:30 a.m.) to determine who plays Jones in the semi.

“We’ve just got to shake (Friday evening’s loss) off,” said Sweeting.

 Just to get into the tiebreaker, Middaugh had to end Homan’s 25-game win streak.

“It felt great. I thought we curled really well, as did Rachel’s team, and I thought our game plan worked out well. We wanted to play fairly conservative but we knew we had to put a bit of pressure on them too because they’re not going to miss open hits,” said Middaugh, who feels the win puts her team in a good state of mind heading into the tiebreaker.

“We’re just coming off a win and we’re playing Val Sweeting who’s just coming off a loss. We’re happy to be in it, but we still want to make the semifinals. We won the game and we’re happy to live to play again.”

Homan (6-1) had already claimed first place and a bye into Sunday’s final (11 a.m.), earlier Friday when she defeated Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., 7-5.

 Also in the final draw of the women’s round-robin, Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque (2-4) defeated Fleury (1-5).

 On the men’s side, three teams are tied for top spot heading into the final draw of round-robin play at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

 Mike McEwen of Winnipeg joined Calgary skips Kevin Koe and Pat Simmons in the first-place position at 4-2 by defeating Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 8-6 in Draw 9 Friday evening.

“We had an amazing start to that game, we were all over them and then that changed in the middle, it reversed,” said McEwen, who has B.J. Neufeld at third, Matt Wozniak at second and Denni Neufeld playing lead.

“Brad made some amazing draws and there were times I didn’t have much; I threw away one because I didn’t have anything. But we got it together the last couple of ends. We played a really good eight, nine and 10, and that was just enough to win. Just enough.”

Right behind the trio of Koe, Simmons and McEwen at 3-3 are Jacobs and Toronto’s John Epping, who defeated Brad Gushue (2-4) of St. John’s 8-6 in another evening matchup.

“This is a big, big event for these guys, and to come out and play as well as they have so far is really big, and no matter what happens tomorrow it’s going to boost us and give us confidence moving forward,” said Epping, who plays with third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March.

 Koe and Simmons will meet each other in Saturday morning’s final draw (8:30), guaranteeing at least one team to finish 5-2. McEwen will play Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock (2-4) while Epping will tangle with Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers (2-4).

 The first-place finisher will receive a bye into Sunday’s final (5 p.m.). The second- and third-place teams will play in a semifinal matchup Saturday (6:30 p.m.). If a tiebreaker is necessary it will go at 1:30 p.m.

 TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Go to http://www.tsn.ca/curling-on-tsn-1.365469 for the complete schedule

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.

**
Friday #2: Team Homan headed to women's final at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup-  Rachel Homan finds herself just one win away from the promised land — a trip back to her hometown, to play for a berth in the 2018 Winter Olympics.  Homan’s Ottawa team ground out a 7-5 win over Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., on Friday morning at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta. The win improved Team Homan’s record to 5-0 and clinched a berth in Sunday’s women’s final at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

 And while the top prize of $14,000 will go to the winner of the women’s final, it is the other bauble on the line here this week that will mean the most to Homan — a direct-entry berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa, the event that will decide Canada’s four-player representative for the 2018 Winter Games.

“We’re not thinking about the Trials berth,” insisted Homan, whose team ran its win streak to 25 games, dating back to the Trail Appliances Autumn Gold over the Thanksgiving weekend in Calgary. “We’re just happy we made another final — then you just have to go out and play your best, and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. If it is? That’s exciting.”

Fleury (1-4) pushed Homan hard —  a seventh-end deuce from Fleury left the teams tied 4-4, and she was in good position for a steal in the eighth.

 But Homan, as she is prone to do, delivered in the clutch with a wonderful inturn angle-raise takeout to score three and all but seal the victory.

“That was a great team shot,” said Homan. “The girls swept it really well, and Emma called unreal line just to get it by the guard.”

Homan and Co. will complete round-robin play tonight (6:30 p.m. MT) against Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont. (2-2), and will have Saturday off to prepare for the final.

“It’s huge for us,” said Homan, whose voice has grown steadily raspier this week. “I can’t really talk right now, so a day of rest is really big for us right now. Honestly, I didn’t even know until mid-week that there was a bye to the final. We’re just trying to win every game and see where the chips fall at the end. But it’s huge to get that break because we need some rest right now.

 Defending champ Val Sweeting, meanwhile, took a significant step towards a playoff berth on Friday morning.

 Sweeting rolled to a 10-4 win over fellow Edmontonian Kelsey Rocque — a possible preview of the 2016 Alberta Scotties provincial final.

 With the win, Sweeting, third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown locked up a tiebreaker berth, and book their spot in the final three with a victory later today against reigning Scotties champs Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

“We’re really excited,” said Brown, whose team took control early with three in the second end, and pulled away with a steal of three in the seventh. “We went out there wanting to learn the ice early and feel good, and we did those things early and happened to come up with the win, so we’re happy.”

The showdown with Jones at 6:30 p.m. MT will be a rematch of the thrilling 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts final — won by Team Jones, 6-5.

“I think it’ll be a really good game, back and forth the whole time,” said Brown. “Both teams will come out firing, and it’s always fun to play Team Jones. We love playing them, and it should be a great game.”

Team Jones won its third straight on Thursday, opening the game with three in the first end, adding three more in the fifth and four in the seventh en route to a 11-4 win over Winnipeg’s Kristy McDonald. Jones improved to 3-2 while McDonald dropped to 1-4.

 In men’s action, Calgary’s Kevin Koe took over sole possession of top spot in the round-robin standings with a 7-4 win over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers.

 Koe was down 3-1 after three ends, but roared back to score two in the fourth, steal one in the sixth and two more in the seventh and never looked back.

 Koe improved to 4-1 while Carruthers is on the ropes for a playoff spot with a 1-4 record.

“We played well,” said Koe. “Obviously, it was a bit of a shaky start, giving up a deuce in the first end, but after that we didn’t miss much and kept the pressure on, and got a couple misses on shots Reid usually doesn’t miss. But that happens. It was a good bounceback for us (after suffering the team’s first loss on Thursday).”

In the other men’s game, Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock kept his playoff hopes with a 5-1 win over Calgary’s Pat Simmons.

 Laycock improved to 2-3 while Simmons dropped to 3-2.

 The 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws today at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

 In addition to the top prize of $14,000 and berths in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, the men’s and women’s champions here also will qualify to join Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, Jan. 14-17 in Las Vegas.
  

**
THURSDAY #2: Team Epping knocks Team Koe from ranks of unbeaten  at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup - And then there none. No teams are undefeated and no teams are winless in the men’s draw at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

 Toronto’s John Epping knocked off the previously unbeaten Kevin Koe squad from Calgary with a 9-5 win in Thursday afternoon’s Draw 5 at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta.

 Koe needed a difficult triple takeout with his last shot to have any hope of tying the game at 7-7 but instead gave up two. Epping did himself and six other men’s teams a favour by knocking off Koe, who, despite the loss, remained at the top of the standings at 3-1.

“We played pretty good,” said Epping, who along with third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March improved to 2-1. “We played a good last few ends [but it was] a little scary at the end there. Probably too many rocks in play in the 10th but in the end we ended up with the W, which is good.”

At the other end of the standings, Brad Gushue of St. John’s, the 2006 Olympic champion, finally hit the win column by edging Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 6-5. It was the first victory in three games for Gushue, who has Mark Nichols playing third, second Brent Gallant and Geoff Walker, who grew up in nearby Beaverlodge, Alta., at lead.

“Definitely we didn’t want to start 0-3. Yesterday (Wednesday) was a tough day. We didn’t play real bad. We played against two teams (Koe and Brad Jacobs) that played really well,” said Gushue, who utilized the hammer to get the winning point in the 10th end, following an eighth-end deuce that was set up by a brilliant raise double-takeout by Nichols. “Even today, Mike’s team played really well. Unfortunately we played a little better and made the right shots at the right time today.”

Gushue insisted his team didn’t feel pressure coming into the Home Hardware Canada Cup despite being the best team on the cash circuit so far this season, winning six events.

“We’ve had some good runs in the Canada Cup although it’s been a couple of years since we’ve had a good run at the Canada Cup,” he said. “We just tried to come in here and have fun and keep playing the way we’ve been playing. We know that all of a sudden teams are going to be gunning for us because were tops on the [Canadian Team Ranking System) but that’s fine, that’s where you want to be.”

Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic champion and 2013 Tim Hortons Brier champion, kept himself in the hunt with a 7-2 victory over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock. With the win, Jacobs improved to 2-1 heading into his evening draw against Epping. Laycock falls to 1-3 heading into Friday’s action.

“That was a real solid performance as a team,” said Jacobs, who is backed up by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden. “It really feels good to play collectively like that as a team.
“It feels really good to take advantage of our opportunities.”

Jacobs feels the squad is maturing as a team since winning in Sochi.

“The last few years we’ve grown as a team. You recognize opportunities as a team right now. These guys help me out to read the ice. Collectively as a team we’re almost like four skips.”

Pat Simmons of Calgary also improved to 2-1 by drawing for two in the 10th end for a 5-4 win over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers (1-3).

 Ottawa-based Rachel Homan (4-0) remains alone on top of the women’s standings after dismantling Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque 9-2. Homan’s crew easily extended its win streak to 24 games, taking a 6-0 lead after only three ends. They have not lost since Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10), a 7-3 setback to Switzerland’s Michèle Jäggi

 Although Homan’s team is young with Weagle being 30 and the others 26, they’re all older than the Rocque squad (1-2), with the skip being the youngest (21) in the entire Home Hardware Canada Cup. It was the only game on the women’s side in Draw 5.

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with another draw today at 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

 TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Go to http://www.tsn.ca/curling-on-tsn-1.365469 for the complete schedule

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.  

**
Thursday #1: Team Jones hits win column  at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup: Team Jones is back on track at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing. After a miserable 0-2 opening day at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta., the reigning Canadian champs from Winnipeg — (Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen and coach Wendy Morgan) — earned what can only be described as a must-win in the compressed round-robin draw, beating Tracy Fleury’s team from Sudbury, Ont., 9-4 on Thursday morning.

 The win kept Team Jones’s hopes alive for a playoff berth, but the five-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion knows her team doesn’t have much wiggle room.

“I missed a couple big shots yesterday and if we make them, maybe it’s a different story,” said Jones, who’ll be back at Revolution Place in February as Team Canada for the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “But we came out today and played really well, and we’re still kicking.”

Jones took control in the fourth end. With the teams tied 2-2, Fleury was looking at four Jones counters in the rings and needed to draw the eight-foot to score. Instead, she was heavy with her draw and Jones stole four to go up 6-2.

 Two ends later, Jones added three more to put the game in the bank. Her team will be back on the ice in the Thursday night draw against Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque (1-1).

“We just have to get some wins together here and you’re never out until you’re out,” said Jones. “We’ll keep p[laying and hopefully they’ll let us in at the end of the week.”

In other women’s action, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan moved into sole possession of top spot in the seven-team round-robin standings with an 8-4 win over Winnipeg’s Kristy McDonald.

 Homan was up 3-0 early, taking two in the second end and stealing one in the third, but McDonald rallied to tie it with three in the fourth.

 Homan, though, would take back control with a sixth-end deuce and another steal of one in the seventh to improve to 3-0.

“Absolutely, theres’s still room for improvement,” said Team Homan vice-skip Emma Miskew. “We’re still learning the ice and learning how to throw to make shots here. All the teams are really good, and we really can’t let up. We have to stay tough and keep trying to make all of our shots.”

Sherry Middaugh (Coldwater, Ont.) had a chance to keep pace with Homan at 3-0, but lost her first game, bowing 8-4 to defending champ Val Sweeting of Edmonton.

 The Albertans, now tied with Middaugh at 2-1, scored three in the fourth end and stole two in the fifth and never looked back.

 In men’s play, meanwhile, Calgary’s Kevin Koe remained the lone unbeaten squad in Grande Prairie, rolling to an 8-6 triumph over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock (1-2).

 Koe, backed up by third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert, broke the game open with four in the eighth end.

“Good start,” nodded Kennedy. “But every game is so tough — we’re still waiting for an easy game here, but they don’t come. We’ve played some good tight games and made the shots in the last few ends when it matters. So, so far, so good. Kevin has been great all year; he might be the most consistent curler in Canada right now. He’s just making everything. So it’s our job, the other three of us, to just set up good ends for him and let him do his thing.”

In the other men’s game, Mike McEwen improved to 2-1 with a 9-4 win over Reid Carruthers (1-2) in an all-Winnipeg rematch of the 2015 Manitoba men’s final.

 The 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws today at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

 TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Go to http://www.tsn.ca/curling-on-tsn-1.365469 for the complete schedule

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.
 
 

**
2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup Begins Wednesday in Grand Prairie: The Olympic dream will become a little more real for the two teams that prevail at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, beginning Wednesday at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta.

 The elite competition, which features the top eight men’s and top seven women’s teams in Canada, will not only offer a huge prize purse of $140,000, it will send the winning men’s and women’s teams directly to Canada’s final stage of qualifying (the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa) to determine our four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

 Also on the line in the 12th edition of the Home Hardware Canada Cup will be berths for the winning men’s and women’s teams in the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, Jan. 14-17 in Las Vegas, as members of Team North America.

 Former champions from the Winter Olympics, Tim Hortons Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts headline the field in Grande Prairie, which features:

— The defending champions of the Tim Hortons Brier (Calgary’s Pat Simmons) and Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones);

— The defending champions of the Home Hardware Canada Cup from last year’s event in Camrose, Alta. (Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen and Edmonton’s Val Sweeting);

— The next five highest qualified teams from the 2014-15 Canadian Team Ranking System. Because there was a virtual tie for the fifth and final men’s qualifying berth between Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers and Toronto’s John Epping, both teams were granted entry.

 Both reigning Olympic champions (Jones and Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) are in the field, as are the current runaway leaders on the 2015-16 Canadian Team Ranking System — 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s and two-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa.

 The men’s field is rounded out by two-time Tim Hortons Brier and 2010 world champion Kevin Koe of Calgary and 2015 Tim Hortons Brier bronze-medallist Steve Laycock of Saskatoon.

 The other women’s teams are skipped by two-time Canadian and world junior women’s champion Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton, 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings runner-up Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., reigning Northern Ontario champion Tracy Fleury of Sudbury and 2014 Scotties bronze-medallist Kristy McDonald of Winnipeg.

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup media guide, including rosters and player biographies, is available for download by clicking here.

 All 15 teams will have a practice session on Tuesday. Click here for the practice schedule.

 TSN and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Home Hardware Canada Cup, from the opening draw on Wednesday (8:30 a.m. MT, 10:30 a.m. ET) through to and including the women’s (11 a.m. MT, 1 p.m. ET) and men’s (5 p.m. MT, 7 p.m. ET) finals on Sunday. Click here for the broadcast schedule.

 The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists. Click here for the full draw.

 The total prize money is $70,000 each for men and women, with the winning teams receiving $14,000. The runners-up get $9,000 while the third-place finishers earn $5,000. Teams also receive cash for each round-robin win — $2,000 in women’s games and $1,500 for men’s games. The difference is due to the men having an additional round-robin game to play.
 
 Since its inception in 2003, the Canada Cup has been won by some of the country’s most successful curling teams. On the men’s side, Edmonton’s Kevin Martin is the only four-time winner (2005, 2006, 2009, 2011), while Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey (2003, 2004, 2007) is a three-time champion. Koe (2008), Howard (2010) and Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton (2012) have also emerged victorious.
 
 On the women’s side, Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton is a three-time winner (2008, 2010, 2012), while Jones (2007, 2011) and Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary (2005, 2009) are all two-time Cup winners. The other winners were Middaugh (2003), Colleen Jones of Halifax (2004) and Cathy King of Edmonton (2006). 

 The Canada Cup was staged in Kamloops, B.C., from its inception in 2003 through 2008. In 2009, it was played in Yorkton, Sask., while Medicine Hat, Alta., staged the 2010 renewal, followed by trips to Cranbrook, B.C., in 2011, Moose Jaw, Sask., in 2012 and Camrose last year.

 The 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup will take place in Brandon, Man.
 



Back to Score-Board