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N.W.T.'s Koe captures Brier spot

Home ice advantage was not enough for the Yukon's two rinks to snap a three-year losing streak at the 2012 Yukon/N.W.T.

Home ice advantage was not enough for the Yukon’s two rinks to snap a three-year losing streak at the 2012 Yukon/N.W.T. Men’s Curling Championships over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

The N.W.T.‘s No. 2 rink, led by skip Jamie Koe, went undefeated to capture the one available spot for the two territories at the Tim Hortons Brier, the Canadian Men’s Curling Championships. This year the Brier is in Saskatoon from March 3 to 11.

The Yukon has not been represented at the Brier since 2008.

“Koe was definitely the No. 1 team. You could just tell from their shooting percentages,” said George Hilderman, skip of Yukon 1. “They made more shots than anyone else.

“Their confidence was there from their past experience.”

It will be Koe’s sixth Brier appearance. His best placement was fifth with a 6-5 record in 2006.

“My second (Brad Chorostkowski) has been to seven (Briers) and my lead (Robert Borden) has been to one, so we have some good Brier experience,” said Koe, who’s third is Tom Naugler. “We’ve had some rocky times. We’ve had some good showings there and some bad ones.”

Both territories’ seeding process could not have been more wrong in the playdown. Team Koe was N.W.T.‘s No. 2 seed and finishing second was Yukon’s No. 2, Team Solberg with skip Jon Solberg, third Doug Gee, second Steve Fecteau and lead Clint Ireland.

“It’s kind of ironic that the two No. 2 teams were the teams in the top spots,” said Hilderman. “That’s typical in curling. You have your hot weekends.”

Team Hilderman, Yukon 1, finished last with one win and five losses behind N.W.T. 1, Team Moss, which was led by skip Steve Moss, of Yellowknife.

Hilderman’s one win was a 6-4 victory over Moss on Sunday morning.

Solberg, who went 3-3 over the six games, came the closest to beating Koe in an 8-7 loss, also on Sunday.

“We’re all seniors ... (but) we felt we had a shot at it,” said Hilderman. “As we went into the competition, you could see we had our work cut out (for us).”

On board with Hilderman were third Gord Zealand, second Pat Molloy and lead Bob Walker.

Team Hilderman will be going for its third consecutive title at the Yukon Senior Men’s Curling Championships in Watson Lake Feb. 23-26.

Koe is the brother of Alberta’s Kevin Koe, the 2010 world curling champion. Kevin Koe also won the Skookum World Curling Tour Cash Spiel in Whitehorse two years ago.

“It’s been great here, as it usually is,” said Jamie Koe, of the weekend’s playdown. “Great ice, great arena - it’s always fun to come here.”

No Yukon women’s rink threw a hat in the ring to compete for the Yukon and N.W.T.‘s one spot to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship. Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha will be representing both territories next week in Red Deer, Alta. in her 10th appearance at the championship.

Contact Tom Patrick at