Kevin Koe will skip the Canada entry when the main draw begins Saturday at the Tim Hortons Brier, in a Feb. 27, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Defending champion Kevin Koe one of the headliners in strong Brier field

KINGSTON, Ont. — With four national men’s curling titles to his credit, Kevin Koe already has a Hall of Fame resume.

Winning another Tim Hortons Brier crown would put his name into the record books.

The defending champ will skip the Canada entry when the main draw begins Saturday at the Leon’s Centre. Koe is one of the headliners in a field that includes top-ranked Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario, home province favourite John Epping of Ontario and two-time champ Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Koe, who’s currently tied with Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin, will try to become the first skip to win five Canadian men’s curling titles.

“He’s been to seven Briers and he’s been in six finals,” teammate Ben Hebert said. “That is ridiculous. That’s the stat for me that is the craziest. He’s won four and lost two finals. But to play in seven Briers and get to six finals is a crazy stat.”

Perhaps just as impressive is the fact the 45-year-old skip has won the Tankard with a different third each time.

His first win in 2010 was with Blake MacDonald, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen. The Rycroft-Thiessen front end was the same for the 2014 victory with Pat Simmons at third.

In 2016, the Calgary skip won with Marc Kennedy at third on a team that included Hebert and Brent Laing. Koe and Hebert won last year with B.J. Neufeld at third and Colton Flasch at second.

“One thing that Kevin always has the knack for is making the big shot and making that big skip shot when you need it,” Hebert said in a recent interview. “He’s obviously been great at those Briers and I hope he can let it rain again this year for us.”

Koe’s current lineup, which is ranked sixth in the country, started play in the 2018-19 season. Kennedy stepped away from the game at that time — he has since returned to play third for Jacobs — while Laing joined Epping’s foursome.

Richardson skipped Saskatchewan to Brier wins in 1959, ‘60, ‘62 and ‘63. Ferbey won four times in five years (2001, ‘02, ‘03, ‘05) and fellow Albertan Martin was victorious in 1991, ‘97, ‘08 and ’09.

Koe, who represented Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics, ran the table at last year’s Brier with 13 straight wins. He defeated Brendan Bottcher’s wild-card team 4-3 in an all-Alberta final.

Bottcher is skipping the Alberta side this time around in a strong field that also includes Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson and British Columbia’s Steve Laycock.

“There’s more teams now that are capable of winning a Brier than there probably has been in a number of years,” Gushue said. ”Usually when you look at it, there’s probably three or four that are capable of winning. This year there’s probably six, maybe even seven teams that can win, which is great for our game.”

Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen will meet Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., in the play-in game Friday night. The winner will be called Team Wild Card and get the last remaining berth in the 16-team field.

The field is split into two pools for round-robin play, which will continue through Wednesday night.

Jacobs, Bottcher, Gushue and Gunnlaugson are in Pool A with Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy, Quebec’s Alek Bedard, Bryan Cochrane of Prince Edward Island and Nunavut’s Jake Higgs.

Epping, Team Wild Card, Koe, Dunstone and Laycock are in Pool B with New Brunswick’s James Grattan, Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin and Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.

Eight teams will advance to the championship round beginning Thursday. The top four teams will qualify for the Page Playoffs starting March 7.

The semifinal and final are set for March 8.

The Brier winner will wear the Maple Leaf at the March 28-April 5 world men’s curling championship in Glasgow, Scotland. Koe settled for silver at last year’s world playdowns in Lethbridge, Alta.

Kerri Einarson won the Canadian women’s curling championship — the Scotties Tournament of Hearts — last weekend in Moose Jaw, Sask. She will represent Canada at the March 14-22 world women’s curling championship in Prince George, B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2020.

curling

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

Advocate file photo
Man awaiting murder trial facing two new trials for breaching release conditions

Quentin Strawberry going to trial in March in connection with 2019 murder

Ecole La Prairie students and teachers dressed up in Halloween costumes and paraded by Barrett Kiwanis Place, while waving at the building’s residents in Red Deer on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Ecole La Prairie students parade in Halloween costumes for Red Deer seniors

Dozens of Red Deer students put on their Halloween costumes to spread… Continue reading

Advocate file photo
Preliminary hearing set for Walmart shooting suspect

Chase Freed facing second-degree murder and attempted murder charges

Truck driver Jaskirat Singh Sidhu walks into the Kerry Vickar Centre for his sentencing in Melfort, Sask., Friday, March 22, 2019. nbsp;A lawyer representing the truck driver responsible for the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus collision says he wants to stay in Canada once released from prison. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kayle Neis
Truck driver responsible for Humboldt Broncos crash seeks to stay in Canada

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to multiple charges

Protesters faced off with law enforcement officers at NE Highway 99, in Vancouver, Wash., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, after a police shooting. Authorities say sheriff's deputies in Clark County, Washington, were involved in a shooting, but didn’t release details. A man told The Oregonian/OregonLive his 21-year-old son was killed by police. (Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)
Police shooting of Black man near Portland raises tension

Police shooting of Black man near Portland raises tension

A man walks past the lineup for Covid19 Assessments at Toronto Western Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday October 27, 2020. New federal projections suggest that Canadians need to cut a quarter of their contacts to keep the COVID-19 outbreak from resurging. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadians need to cut contacts by a quarter to control COVID-19 outbreak: Tam

Canadians need to cut contacts by a quarter to control COVID-19 outbreak: Tam

FILE - Artist Billy Joe Shaver poses backstage following his concert "Billy Joe Shaver presented by WMOT/Roots Radio" at City Winery Nashville in Nashville, Tenn. on April 1, 2017. Shaver, who penned songs for Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Bobby Bare, has died. His friend Connie Nelson said he died Wednesday in Texas following a stroke. He was 81. (Photo by Laura Roberts/Invision/AP, File)
Outlaw country artist Billy Joe Shaver dead at 81

Outlaw country artist Billy Joe Shaver dead at 81

Vancouver author Julie Flett is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
‘Birdsong’ by Julie Flett wins $50K children’s literature award

‘Birdsong’ by Julie Flett wins $50K children’s literature award

Children wait using physical distancing while getting their picture taken at picture day at St. Barnabas Catholic School during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Sanitizer, masks and smiles mark an unusual school photo day for a COVID-19 year

Sanitizer, masks and smiles mark an unusual school photo day for a COVID-19 year

People are silhouette as they walk holding hands along the board walk on a fall evening overlooking Lake Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 could make transition to standard time smoother, say experts

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any darker, the end of… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 23, 2018, file photo, the logo for ExxonMobil appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Exxon lost $1.1 billion in the second quarter, Friday, July 31, 2020, its economic pain deepening as the pandemic kept households on lockdown, diminishing the need for oil around the world. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Losses mount for oil companies as pandemic grips economy

Losses mount for oil companies as pandemic grips economy

The offices of SNC Lavalin are seen Monday, March 26, 2012 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
SNC stock touches 52-week low after Q3 loss linked to arbitration, COVID precautions

SNC stock touches 52-week low after Q3 loss linked to arbitration, COVID precautions

Most Read