Although it wasn’t their strongest week of curling, Kevin Koe’s team was able to pull out a win at the Red Deer Curling Classic this past weekend.
Despite the fact the defending world champions were pushed to the brink of elimination early in the competition, Team Koe managed to fight their way back to the top with a string of victories in the later stages of the competition.
“There were a few struggles but we made the shots that we needed to, beat some good teams along the way yesterday and today and a lot of close games. So it’s good and, you know, a win’s a win,” said Koe after defeating Ted Appelman 6-5 in extra ends on Monday evening.
In what turned out to be a closer matchup than many had predicted, Appelman’s Edmonton rink fought the Canadian champs to the last rock.
“They don’t get to the final by fluke. They beat a couple of good teams along the way in (David) Murdoch and (Brendan) Bottcher. So I wasn’t surprised at all. Obviously they were playing good coming in,” Koe said of his opponents in the championship game.
A strong start in the matchup allowed Koe to take a two-point lead into the seventh end of the eight-end affair.
Team Appelman wasn’t phased, though. A last-rock steal in the seventh followed by a mistake by Koe on the final rock in the eighth sent it to extras.
Koe made up for it though, picking up the winning point in the ninth to clinch the championship.
It was the Edmonton rink’s first time winning the Red Deer Curling Classic and it could not have come at a better time for the team.
“We’ve struggled couple of events. Just lost a couple of games where we weren’t sharp, a couple of bad breaks and that’s all it takes. So another win, this is our second win of the year. So this sets us up good for the next couple of events.”
With the Canada Cup of Curling just a week and a half away, that set up is especially important for the team, who will be looking to defend their win in last year’s event.
“We won it last year, so we’ve already got our (Olympic) trials spot, so for us we’re free rolling a bit. But it’s a good challenge, a good measuring stick to see where we are. The other teams are really going to be geared up because they’re trying to secure their spots,” Koe said.
“We’re coming around, I think and it will be a good test to see where we’re at but we’ll be trying to win it again.”
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Nadine Chyz picked up her first Red Deer Curling Classic win Monday afternoon, with an 8-4 win over Scotland’s Hannah Fleming.
“We had some struggles in the first game, but I think we used them as good learning opportunities that we took forward for the rest of the week. So we were really happy to get to know the ice better as the games went on and felt a lot more comfortable with it,” said Chyz.
After dropping their first game against Geri-Lynn Ramsay on Friday, Chyz and her team went on a tear and won their next seven draws in a row, capping it all off with a dominating win in the championship game.
“They kind of had some bad breaks, so that allowed us to get a lead early. So the biggest thing is just maintaining that lead. So we had to stay calm, 0bviously and execute the rest of the game and I think my team did just that,” she said of the championship.
While Chyz’s team will not be participating in the Canada Cup in Brandon next weekend, the skip said they are going to be battling to secure a trials spot based on points.
“We’re still working on points. We’re not a shoe-in but having this experience and getting some points here really helps us for breaking through to those events.”
The Red Deer Curling Classic featured 54 teams from the World Curling Tour.