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World champ Team Koe takes the big cheque

While often overshadowed by Olympic gold medalists Team Martin in Alberta - and at last year's cash spiel for that matter - it was Edmonton's Team Koe taking the top-spot and a cheque for $12,000.

While often overshadowed by Olympic gold medalists Team Martin in Alberta - and at last year’s cash spiel for that matter - it was Edmonton’s Team Koe taking the top-spot and a cheque for $12,000 at the 2010 Skookum World Curling Tour Cash Spiel on Sunday at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

“This is the best ice we’ve played on all year,” said skip Kevin Koe, who is originally from Yellowknife, NWT. “As long as you keep having it, we’ll keep coming back. It’s one of our favourite spiels.”

Current Brier and World Champion Team Koe, took the title with an 8-2 win over Team Miki in the finals. Well, sort of.

Due to an ankle injury two days before the start of the spiel, Miki skip, Bryan Miki, had to withdraw from the competition. However, his team managed to recruit Greg McAuley, who flew up from Vancouver to join the rink.

As far as last-minute subs go, McAuley was a good one, having led a team to a Brier and then world championship title in 2000.

“He twisted his ankle on Tuesday, so they phoned me on Wednesday and asked me if I could go, so I got out of work,” said McAuley. “Bryan curled with me when we won the worlds 10 years ago. So they know me well, but I have never curled with (his team) before.

“They were fun to curl with. We played well all weekend up until this game.”

It didn’t take long for the current world champs to dispense with the former, winning in just five ends after scoring three in the fifth. However, the true turning point of the match came when Koe scored three in the third to prevent a steal.

“That was the big key,” said Koe. “They were in trouble and then Greg made a great shot on his last - they actually had a chance to steal that end, which was surprising the way it was going.

“But I made a nice one on my last one for three. And we’re a good team with a lead.

“That was the big point of the game.”

“They played a lot better than we did - they’re world champions for a reason,” said McAuley. “They got that first three and it was kind of tough for us to comeback, especially with a team like that.

“We had a chance to manufacture two in the fourth, but Kevin made a good double (takeout) and ended that. They got another three in the fifth and that was pretty much it.”

For their efforts, New Westminster’s Team Miki took in $8,000 while the third and fourth place teams - Kelowna’s Team Richard and New Westminster’s Team Geall - each grabbed $5,000.

Teams finishing in spots fifth through eighth, which included Whitehorse rinks Team Solberg (headed by Jon Solberg) and Team Hilderman (head by George Hilderman), each won $3,000.

Last year’s winners, Team Martin, headed by curling superstar Kevin Martin, were unable to attend this year’s event due to a scheduling conflict. Team Martin, which, like Koe, is based out of Alberta, defeated Team Koe in last year’s semifinal of the cash spiel in both teams’ first appearance.

“They had some speaking engagements they had to go to this weekend,” said Koe. “We’re friends with them and, yeah, they liked it. They were disappointed they couldn’t come.

“We’ll be back next year.”

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