Nolan Thiessen, Carter Rycroft, Pat Simmons and Kevin Koe celebrate after capturing the Masters title (Photo Credit: Anil Mungal).

Koe holds on against Cotter to win 2012 Masters

November 18, 2012, 8:53 PM

BRANTFORD, Ont. — Calgary’s Kevin Koe defeated Jim Cotter, of Kelowna/Vernon, B.C., 7-5 to win the Rogers Masters title Sunday during the opening leg of the Grand Slam of Curling series at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.

Koe won the Players’ Championship in 2004 as a member of Team John Morris but finished runner-up in six Grand Slam tournaments since including three in a row at the Masters from 2007-08 to 2009-10. The Masters victory was the first Grand Slam title for third Pat Simmons and lead Nolan Thiessen. Second Carter Rycroft won six Grand Slams with Edmonton’s Kevin Martin.

“This was my seventh Grand Slam final (as a skip) and my first win,” Koe said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Koe gave up a steal of two in the opening end when his double raise tap came up short. The 2010 Brier and world champion made an open hit for a deuce in the second to tie it.

Cotter, playing in his first Grand Slam final, faced five Koe counters in the third and settled for a hit and roll to count one and reclaim the lead 3-2.

Koe took control pulling ahead 5-3 in the fifth end after Cotter missed and wrecked on his own guard with his final shot allowing Koe to capitalize with a draw for three. Cotter’s struggles continued in six as he hit and rolled too far to give up a steal and trail by three.

Cotter caught a break when Koe missed the double in seven and he made an open draw for a deuce to claw back within one. Koe held the hammer coming home and Simmons joined Thiessen and Rycroft to drag their final shot to the button for a single in eight to fend off the late charge.

Team Koe finished 4-1 in the round-robin, defeated Toronto’s Mark Bice 6-4 in the quarterfinals and edged Alberta rival Martin 6-5 in an extra end during the semifinals. Martin, the reigning Olympic champion, made a double takeout for a deuce in the eighth to force the extra frame. Koe faced two and drew for the win, biting just enough of the back of the four-foot circle to count following a close measurement.

Team Koe earned $20,000 and is now eligible for the $1 million bonus should they sweep the four-event Grand Slam of Curling series this season.

Cotter fell 0-2 in the round robin but rolled off six consecutive wins to reach the final including a 6-3 win over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in the quarterfinals and a 6-3 victory against Tier II qualifier Steve Laycock of Saskatoon during the semis.