Rogers Masters playoffs: Koe battles Martin, Homan versus Muirhead – and more
BRANTFORD, Ont. – Edmonton’s Kevin Koe defeated Mark Bice of Toronto 6-4 to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinals of the Rogers Masters at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.
The 2010 world champions qualified for the final four of the Grand Slam of Curling event by grabbing three points in the third end for a 3-2 lead, and upping the ante to a 5-3 advantage after five.
Team Koe is one of the World Curling Tour’s most consistent performers this season, scoring two tournament titles and a runner-up finish in recent weeks. The squad sits in first place on the men’s money list with over $65,000 in winnings, almost $25,000 ahead of Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton (second place) and third-place Kevin Martin of Edmonton.
Also advancing from Saturday night quarterfinal action was Steve Laycock of Regina, who scored a 4-1 win over a frustrated Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The Saskatchewan foursome blanked the first three ends before finally pouncing for a two-count in the fourth, and Jacobs missed a tricky split for two in the fifth, and scored only a single. A second Laycock deuce in the seventh left the writing on the wall.
In women’s play, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan won her sixth match in a row by beating reigning Ontario champion Tracy Horgan of Sudbury 6-2. The previous year’s Ontario titlists, Team Homan took a deuce in the fifth end for a 4-2 lead and stole the sixth end to take command.
In the fourth match of the draw, Chelsea Carey of Morden, Man. dispatched Heather Strong of St. John’s by an odd 4-0 count. Carey led 2-0 in the seventh end of the low-scoring affair before stealing the final two ends.
In earlier quarterfinal action, Martin outlasted rival Stoughton by a 5-3 score. The key blow was struck in the seventh end when Martin, the reigning Olympic champion, stole a point for a 4-3 lead.
Also advancing to the semis was Jim Cotter of Kelowna, B.C. who scored a big three-ender in the sixth frame en route to a 5-3 win over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
Team Cotter is enjoying a strong season, largely due to the growing chemistry between the skip and new third Jason Gunnlaugson. In recent years the well-travelled “Gunner” has bounced from his home province of Manitoba to a brief stint of competition in Russia, before landing on the Left Coast.
“I guess from the outside our combination might look a little weird,” said Gunnlaugson. “Jim and I have spent a fair amount of time talking about curling and all sorts of things, and one thing we learned fast is that we have a lot in common. We probably have the most common ground of anyone on the team, actually.”
In earlier women’s quarterfinals, two European squads moved on. Eve Muirhead of Scotland, the reigning European champion, scored four points in the sixth end to defeat Calgary’s Shannon Kleiberink.
In the fourth match of the draw, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni scored an upset 6-5 win over Ontario’s Sherry Middaugh, one of the World Curling Tour’s top women’s money winners.
Sunday morning’s semifinal round airs on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific at 8:00am ET. The Battle of the Kevins will continue as Koe faces Martin, Laycock will clash with Cotter, Carey will face off against Tirinzoni and Homan will tangle with Muirhead.
On Thursday night, Homan scored a massive five-ender in the fifth end to beat Muirhead 8-2 in their round-robin pool matchup.
CBC will televise the men’s and women’s championship finals at 1:00pm ET.
Sixty-eight of the world’s top high-performance men’s and women’s curling teams assembled on Nov. 15 in Brantford to contest the Rogers Masters. The Grand Slam event boasts a $200,000 prize purse, four competition venues and a total of eight live game broadcasts.
For ticket information, draw schedules, the list of competing teams and more, visit The Rogers Masters website.
[Sportsnet photos copyright ® by Anil Mungal. Click on images to increase viewing size]