A battle between Newfoundland and Alberta ensued on the ice in Affinity Place Saturday afternoon, as Brad Gushue and Kevin Koe danced in the men's semi final of the Home Hardware Canada Cup, a date with Brad Jacobs in the final on the line.
Both took it easy in the first end, keeping to defensive takeout plays. They began to get a little more aggressive in the second, Gushue taking two to get the scoring started. Koe then concluded the third with the hammer and a takeout for one, followed by a blank fourth end.
Gushue loaded the house and tucked his final shot of the fifth off the draw right up to the button, just barely edging Koe's shot out to go up 4-1. With the hammer in the sixth end, Koe made his final shot with a second of thinking time left, but could only take a couple of Gushue's rocks out, leaving a point to add to a 5-1 advantage.
In the seventh, however, Koe made room in the house with several hits, then made a draw to the button to cut the lead to 5-3. With the hammer shot in hand, Gushue had a chance at taking a big lead at the end of the eighth, but a little too much heat on the draw carried it farther than intended and Koe received two to knot the score at 5. That would be one of the turning points of the game.
Some precision sweeping from Koe's lead, Ben Herbert, in the ninth set them up with a slight edge toward the button before the end was almost over, but Brad Gushue's shot salvaged what was a potentially lethal situation to only give up one point, giving Koe his first lead of the game.
As with several games before them, it then came to down Koe's final shot with the hammer, gaining the intended effect to end the game 7-5.
"We've got a lot of work to do still. That's not a textbook win that we're going to think to ourselves that we outplayed the other team, but we got lucky today," stated Ben Herbert, "We had to go a little 'balls to the wall' a bit and risk the game a couple times because they had the big lead, so we had to change our strategy for that."
"What can you say. We struggled early, got down and made a good comeback," said Kevin Koe, adding that he couldn't remember the last time Brad Gushue missed a shot like that seen in the eighth end, "Especially against me in a big game. He doesn't miss those."
"So that got us back to even and we played a great ninth and tenth, and even played a good end in the seventh to get a deuce. We had good back half, just a couple little sloppy mistakes in the first half. I'm really happy with how we hung in there."
Facing Brad Jacobs in the final, Koe likes where his crew is at, and says they'll simply have to play their best.
Meanwhile, Brad Gushue was quick to take responsibility for his fateful error.
Gushue with the hammer...NEARLY takes a big lead, but Koe gets two instead. Tie game! 5-5 in the ninth! pic.twitter.com/4ubIFxCtF3— Discover Estevan (@DiscoverEstevan) December 8, 2018
"They made a lot of good shots and put the pressure on us, but obviously my missed draw in 8 was what cost us the game...I knew I threw it a little bit heavy, I didn't think it was that heavy, I thought it was kind of there on it's own but obviously it slid a little bit further than we thought. I have two of the best sweepers in the world, and I've got to use them."
"The steal in nine got a little sloppy, we conceded one pretty late in that and we were hoping to just give up one and give ourselves a chance in the last end. I had a shot to win, a tough one, but certainly one I expected to make. It just curled for some reason, and my other peels weren't curling. I was a little surprised," he expressed.
The women's semi final gets under way Saturday evening at 7:00 PM, with the 5-2 Jennifer Jones playing the equally ranked Rachel Homan.