Marc Kennedy (left) and Kevin Koe celebrate after winning the 2015 Pinty's GSOC Tour Challenge title. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Koe edges Gushue in extra to win Tour Challenge

September 13, 2015, 7:33 PM

PARADISE, N.L. — Team Kevin Koe may have spoiled a massive party from happening on George Street in nearby St. John’s, but it was a still special night for the Calgary rink at the inaugural Tour Challenge, the season-opening Pinty’s GSOC event.

Koe made a clutch draw with his last rock in the extra end to score one and edge home-province hero Brad Gushue 4-3 in the Tier 1 men’s final Sunday in front of a sold-out crowd at the Paradise Double Ice Complex.

It’s Koe’s fourth career Pinty’s GSOC title victory, but his first with the powerhouse rink he formed last season featuring third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert.

Coincidentally, Koe and Kennedy won their first Grand Slam championship together in St. John’s at the 2004 Players’ Championship when they played for Team John Morris.

“Kevin and I talked about that today, we’ve only won two Slams together and they’ve both been in St. John’s,” Kennedy said with a smile. “This felt good. Kevin played amazing today, but we’ve had a good week as a team.”

Team Koe, with a combined 40 Pinty’s GSOC event wins, fell short of their goals in Year 1 and made some tweaks, most notably with Kennedy now holding the broom in the house during Koe’s skip stones.

“Last year was a little bit disappointing but we got to know each other pretty well. We tried to make a few improvements going into the season and we put it together pretty good this week,” Kennedy said. “Lots to build on and it helps having a skipper that doesn’t miss many shots. You just kind of stay out of his way and hope he makes his last one. It’s a good week for the team.”


Kevin Koe, Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing, and Ben Hebert celebrate with the Pinty’s GSOC Tour Challenge trophy. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Team Koe lost their opening draw game to Toronto’s John Epping 5-4 but it was their only defeat in the tournament as they rolled off five consecutive wins en route to the championship game.

Things didn’t start off as planned for Team Koe during the final. They blanked the first to retain the hammer but their final shot in two didn’t get the right angle for the runback and they gave up a steal of one. Koe then sat shot rock in three and attempted an angle raise bump with his last rock to count two but it was just light and only counted one to tie it 1-1.

It all turned around after the fourth-end break, however, as Koe stole a point in the fifth thanks to a tricky freeze to claim the lead. The rinks alternated singles through six and seven as Koe stayed ahead up by one. He then made a clutch double raise double in the eighth to force Gushue to draw and only get one to send it into the extra tied 3-3.

Laing leads the team with 14 Pinty’s GSOC titles, the most all-time among non-skips, but still believed this one has a special feeling to it.

“I’ve been super fortunate to have played with some of the best players who have ever played obviously,” he said. “Playing with Glenn (Howard) we had a lot of success and now getting on with Kevin hopefully we can continue what we started here, but it’s been a crazy career and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel fortunate because obviously I’ve been a part of those but today it was all Kevin winning that one for us and we were just trying not to fall on his rocks and sweep them right because he was on fire.”

The Tour Challenge victory also clinched Team Koe a spot into the second of two new events on the 2015-16 Pinty’s GSOC schedule, the Champions Cup, running April 26 to May 1, 2016, in Sherwood Park, Alta.

“The season is getting longer, which is great for curling, but making it harder for us guys that have somewhat of a job and that runs into my job with Weed Man for sure because it gets into lawn care season,” Laing explained. “Marc said right after that we’d just qualified for the Champions Cup event and we’re excited but then we made a joke that, ‘Oh great, we get to curl in May,’ so it seems weird but it’s awesome. We’re excited to be playing in Alberta, it’s in Sherwood Park so it’s close to home for Marc and you just want to get into every one of these you can play in.”

Kennedy said: “In all seriousness, it’s an event we wanted to play in and to wrap a spot this early in the year it takes a little bit of pressure off and we’re really looking forward to it. That’s really close to home for me in Sherwood Park so it’ll be a good time.”

“They’re the best events going and this one here in Paradise was the best one I can remember in years,” Laing added. “The fans were great, the ice was snowy but very good considering the situation and it was an amazing Slam. Obviously, I’m biased because we won but it was a great atmosphere all week.”

Kennedy too praised the fans that had packed the arena all week long.

“Obviously a pro-Gushue crowd but those are the best fans we’ve seen at a Slam in 10 years, that was fantastic,” he said. “When it comes to curling it doesn’t really bother you that the fans are cheering for the other team, you’re just happy that there’s a ton of butts in the seats. That was an amazing atmosphere here and lots of nerves and pressure and it was wonderful. They put on a great show here in Paradise.”

Welcome back Cotter to Pinty’s GSOC


Jim Cotter, Ryan Kuhn, Tyrel Griffith, and Rick Sawatsky celebrate with the Pinty’s GSOC Tour Challenge Tier 2 men’s trophy. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Jim Cotter has punched his ticket to the Masters in Truro, N.S., with an undefeated run through the Tier 2 men’s division following a 5-3 victory over Mark Kean in the final.

Cotter, of Vernon, B.C., took one in the first and stole points in two and three to jump out ahead 3-0. Kean, of Stoney Creek, Ont., settled for one in four and swiped a point in five. Cotter added another single in five. Kean made a double for one but gave up the hammer for eight and Cotter punched out two of Kean’s stone with his last to seal the victory.

Team Cotter ran the table with a 7-0 record in the Tier 2 division to earn the spot at the second Pinty’s GSOC event of the season, the Masters, running Oct. 27 to Nov. 1 in Truro, N.S.

Earlier Sunday, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni scored the upset win over Ottawa’s Rachel Homan by stealing two coming home to capture the women’s Tier 1 Tour Challenge title.

Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson capped an undefeated run through the Tier 2 division beating Regina’s Team Chantelle Eberle.

For the full women’s division recap, click here.