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Undefeated run at playdown gives Koe Brier spot

Yellowknifer Jamie Koe and his N.W.T. rink will represent the North at the Tim Hortons Brier next month.

Yellowknifer Jamie Koe and his N.W.T. rink will represent the North at the Tim Hortons Brier next month.

Team Koe swept up the spot at the 2014 Yukon/N.W.T. Men’s Curling Championship, the last playdown to be held between the two territories with the introduction of relegation rounds at next year’s Brier.

Koe went undefeated in six games over the weekend at the Whitehorse Curling Club to gain entry to his eighth Brier - the Canadian men’s curling championship.

“We had a big day yesterday, we knew if we won both games yesterday we clinched it, and we had two really tough games,” said Koe on Sunday. “We got off to a slow start in both of them and the Yukon teams really came after us and forced us really hard. We had to make our last shot to win in both games.

“We feel good going back. We have three weeks to practise before going back because we have to get a little better before we go down there.”

Representing the Yukon in the playdown were Yukon champs Team Paslawski and Yukon 2 Team Scoffin.

The Paslawski rink, which includes skip Pat Paslawski, third Doug Hamilton, second Alexander Peech and lead Trent Derkatch, placed second with a 3-3 record.

“We have three sick guys and we’re just tired,” said Paslawski. “It was a mentally draining weekend - physically as well.

“We learned a lot, had lots of fun,” he added. “The N.W.T. guys were nice to play against, were real pleasant out on the ice and we learned a lot. That’s what we went into the weekend looking for, to try and improve ourselves and learn how to play against teams like Jamie Koe’s.

“We had a chance in our first game against Jamie. If not for one bad end, we could have beat him.”

Team Scoffin - skip Wade Scoffin, third Steve Fecteau, second Mitchell Young, lead Clint Ireland and sub/coach Kevin Patterson - finished 2-4, with a win over Paslawski and N.W.T. 2, Team Skauge.

Skauge’s only win of the weekend was over Scoffin on Sunday morning to wrap-up the playdown.

“Congratulations to Jamie’s team, Pat’s team played really well as well,” said Scoffin. “We’re here enjoying ourselves.”

Scoffin and Ireland played on the last Yukon rink to reach the Brier in 2008, a year in which Koe did not qualify to represent N.W.T. in the territories’ playdown.

Team Koe, which this year includes third Kevin Whitehead, second Brad Chorostkowski and lead Robert Border, has won the territories’ Brier spot the last six years.

In 2012 Team Koe became the first from northern Canada to reach the playoffs of the Brier since the playoff system was installed in 1980. They finished the round-robin with 7-4 record and went on to place fourth.

Koe also placed fifth in 2006, which, at the time, was the best finish by a territory in 31 years.

This year’s Brier will feature at least one Koe-versus-Koe matchup.

Jamie’s brother Kevin Koe also qualified for the Brier on Sunday with a win in the Alberta men’s championship, defeating 2010 Olympic gold medalist Kevin Martin in the final. Kevin Koe won the world championship and the Brier in 2010.

“Our goal is to make the playoffs, but we’ll see what we can do,” said Jamie. “We’re going to go down and represent both territories as best we can.”

The 2014 Tim Hortons Brier will take place March 1-9 in Kamloops, B.C.

“What stands out for me is we’re having fun out there,” said Paslawski. “The sportsmanship is really nice. I’ve been in playdowns like this where there are conflicts and tempers get heated. There was none of that this weekend.”

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