Kevin Koe (Calgary, AB) wins the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, defeating Mike McEwen (Winnipeg, MB) 7-6 at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Koe with Marc Kennedy at third, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert on the front end will now represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February.
Starting with hammer, Koe scored 1 in the first end, then forced McEwen to a single in the second end with some early precision shot-making. After Koe scored a single in the third end, McEwen responded in the fourth end with a big double-takeout scoring the first 2 of the game to take a 3-2 lead.
Koe scored 2 back in the fifth end, then added a steal in the sixth end when McEwen made one of his few mistakes of the game, sailing past a mostly buried Koe stone he was trying to tap back for another deuce. McEwen did get his 2 back in the seventh end. Koe used one of his own stones to attempt a double takeout and lie two, but his shot curled too much and just rolled over the McEwen counter giving McEwen the chance to hit and roll to split the rings, going on the hold it for two.
In the 8th end, brilliant shot-making by both teams setup the scene for McEwen to setup a potential steal, drawing his final rock just fully into the top four-foot so Koe couldn't hit for the point. Force to draw, Ben Hebert leaned hard, the first brush of his life to hold it past the guard for the point.
In a bit of a letdown after the emotional 8th end, the ninth end was messy when Brent Laing flashed a hit and Team McEwen missed three shots of their own saw McEwen forced to a single. You could see the pressure mounting on the players on the ice.
Into the 10th end, Ben Hebert makes two great tick shots, but some more nerves, a peel that jammed and rolled to bite the back of the four-foot leaving McEwen the opportunity to lie two and force Koe to draw the four-foot. Koe, leaning hard on his brushers Hebert and Laing, drew the four-foot for a 7-6 win and celebration ensued.
In the semifinals, McEwen defeated Brad Gushue (St. John's, NL) 6-4 on Saturday. For the win Koe received 89.009 world ranking points, while McEwen receives 69.935 world ranking points for their second place finish and Gushue receives 54.041 world ranking points for finishing 3rd.
Koe went 7-1 in the 9 team round robin qualifying round. Team Koe opening with 7 wins. In their opening game, Koe defeated Steve Laycock (Saskatoon, SK) 6-3, won against Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste Marie, ON) 8-6, Reid Carruthers (Winnipeg, MB) 6-5, Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton, AB) 7-6, McEwen 6-5, John Epping (Toronto, ON) 6-4, John Morris (Vernon, BC) 7-4. In their final round-robin test against Gushue they fell 6-3, but for Koe they had already clinched first finals berth and hammer and rocks.
A great week overall in Ottawa, the attendance and crowds were a little disappointing for a while, but the closing weekend showed a great excitement that made it obvious that mid-week games at the Canadian Tire Centre are more about access than desire for Ottawa fans to get to the games.