Kevin Koe shoots a stone during Draw 13 of the Canadian Beef Masters on Oct. 26, 2018, in Truro, N.S. (Anil Mungal)

Undefeated Koe carrying momentum into Masters playoffs

October 26, 2018, 9:48 PM

TRURO, N.S. — There could only be one undefeated team remaining following the conclusion of round-robin play at the Canadian Beef Masters.

Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe and Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland were the last ones standing with perfect records and clashed in Draw 13 Friday evening at Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

It turned out to be clobbering time for Koe as he rushed through an 8-2 rout in only five ends to stay unbeaten at 4-0 and take the top seed heading into the quarterfinals.

“I don’t know if we’ve been super, super sharp — all four of us — as a team quite yet but we’re feeling pretty good,” Team Koe third B.J. Neufeld said. “We’re getting the hang of the ice early on in games, which is so huge in these events, especially when it’s such a short round-robin like this. I think we’re getting pretty comfortable with the ice.

“It’s nice to be 4-0 and have the hammer the whole way through the playoffs. We weren’t very good on the draw in the round-robin so it’ll be nice to have the hammer in some games here.”

Mouat (3-1) opened with the hammer but struggled out of the gate sending his first skip stone through the rings and ending up a tad heavy on his last of the frame to give up a single steal. It went from bad to worse for Mouat in the second as he attempted a raise triple desperation manoeuvre on a Koe guard to limit the damage but stuffed it to concede three points.

“We’ve been having good starts,” Neufeld said. “Drawing well early, [lead Ben Hebert's] getting the rocks placed in good spots early and we were able to put some pressure on the other team.

“When the ice is just maybe a little bit tricky, you don’t want to throw hard shots against a bunch and that’s what we did to Bruce. He had some really, really hard shots to score in the first couple ends. Just getting off to good starts, which is nice.”

Things didn’t get any better in the third as Mouat was short on the draw to hand over another couple of points. Mouat got on the board with a hit for two in the fourth, however, Koe delivered the dagger in the fifth — his first crack at the hammer — with a double for a deuce and handshakes.

“The five-rock rule, you know there are always going to be rocks in play and you have to be defensive by being offensive,” Neufeld said. “A little lapse here or there and a three or four could be on the table. At the Champions Cup with Mike [McEwen] there, we were four-up on them and we lost that game. You’ve got to stay focused and not have any lapses because teams can come back in this format.”

Team Koe gets some extra rest as their quarterfinal match isn’t until Draw 16 during the women’s quarterfinals set (4 p.m. AT) since a double round of men’s tiebreakers are required. Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers plays Halifax’s Team Jamie Murphy at 8 a.m. AT. The winner will take on Team Matt Dunstone of Regina at 11:30 a.m. AT and the victor of that game will finally meet Koe.

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Elsewhere, Team Brad Gushue got back on track to qualify for the playoffs at 3-1. After losing to Team John Shuster of the U.S. during the afternoon — only the second time Gushue has fallen to Shuster in his career — the St. John’s, N.L., crew bounced back to beat Team Jason Gunnlaugson (0-4) of Gimli, Man., 8-3.

“That was a much better game,” Team Gushue second Brett Gallant said. “I don’t think we’re still playing quite as good as I think we’re capable of but we did a lot of good things in that game. We communicated really well and that helps. We’re just trying to pick up the ice.

“I think we were a little tired earlier in the week and we’re starting to feel a little more rested and we’re just starting to have a little more energy and that’s helping us. That helped in that game. We were energized and we played pretty well.”

The defending champion Gushue arrived at the event straight from competing in China and avoiding having to play any extra games was key.

“The last kind of thing we want to do right now is to add an extra game to our schedule, so that was a big win,” Gallant said. “There are going to be a few tiebreakers as it is, so getting straight through is good and 3-1 record helps, might get hammer in the playoffs for one or two games, so that’s good too.”

Gushue, who won his 11th GSOC title at last month’s Princess Auto Elite 10, broke a 1-1 tie with a steal in the third end and swiped two more points in the fourth. Gunnlaugson got back into it in the fifth though firing one of his trademark triple takeouts to score two and close back within one 4-3.

It was handshakes after the sixth though as Gushue responded with a strong end doubling his points total with a tap to score four.

“We were trying to be careful not to leave him anything and then we just slipped a little deep,” Gallant said. “As soon as they stopped we knew more often than not he’s making that triple. You’ve just got to be careful. He’s so good with that weight, but other than that we played a good game.

“Brad made a couple of pistols in the last end to get our score. We had a couple of misses and they had some good angles there but Brad made a great shot.”

Team Gushue go up against Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin (3-1) in the quarterfinals. Team Mouat play Team Shuster and Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson (3-1) take on Toronto’s Team John Epping (3-1) in a rematch. Paterson edged Epping 8-7 Thursday afternoon.

Team Glenn Howard (1-3) of Penetanguishene, Ont., ended on a high note defeating Team Steffen Walstad (0-4) of Norway 7-2.

In women’s tiebreakers, Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., crushed Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker 9-2 and Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson downed Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa 6-3 to advance.

The second batch of women’s tiebreakers go down at 8 a.m. AT featuring Edmonton’s Team Chelsea Carey vs. Team Nina Roth of the U.S., and Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg vs. Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man.

Broadcast coverage of the Canadian Beef Masters resumes with the men’s quarterfinals at 10:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 a.m. PT on Sportsnet followed by the women’s quarterfinals at 3 p.m. ET / Noon ET on CBC.

The semifinals and finals are set for Sunday.

NOTES: Winners take home $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup in April. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the overall season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship.