Koe brothers lead the way at the Brier

Kevin Koe's Alberta team was the lone undefeated rink remaining in the field Monday night at 5-0, while younger sibling Jamie, who skips Yukon/Northwest Territories, was 4-1 alongside Ontario's Glenn Howard.
Alberta skip Kevin Koe makes a shot during an afternoon draw against PEI at the Brier in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Monday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

One Koe brother is chasing the other atop the standings at the Canadian men's curling championship in Saskatoon.

Kevin Koe's Alberta team was the lone undefeated rink remaining in the field Monday night at 5-0, while younger sibling Jamie, who skips Yukon/Northwest Territories, was 4-1 alongside Ontario's Glenn Howard.

"It's so rare we're both here, but it is pretty cool seeing both [of us] at the top," Jamie Koe said.

The only other time the brothers were in the same field at the tournament was in 2010, when Kevin Koe won the title in Halifax.

While Kevin's Calgary foursome was a pre-tournament favourite this year, the Territories have been a surprise at the Tim Hortons Brier.

"We're playing well and it looks like my brother's team might be playing even better," Kevin Koe observed. "If they keep playing like that, they'll be in a good spot."

Lack of competition in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, plus the distance and the expense of travelling to World Curling Tour events in the south, puts northern teams at a disadvantage at the Brier.

But Jamie's Yellowknife rink is doing their part to build up hype for Wednesday morning's Koe vs. Koe matchup.

"We've got two big ones [Tuesday] before we get to worry about that one," Jamie Koe said. "Hopefully we can get a couple of good ones tomorrow and have a good battle with them on Wednesday."

The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Thursday advance to the Page playoff. Any ties for fourth are solved by tiebreaker games.

B.C.'s Jim Cotter, Manitoba's Robert Fowler and Nova Scotia's Jamie Murphy sit with identical 3-2 records.

Saskatchewan's Scott Manners, New Brunswick's Terry Odishaw and Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs follow at 2-3.

Quebec's Robert Desjardins and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador are both 1-4, while Mike Gaudet of Prince Edward Island is 0-5.

Alberta, meanwhile, has made the Brier look easy. Kevin Koe, third Pat Simmons, second Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen have won every game by three points or more, including a 6-3 win over Saskatchewan 6-3 on Monday night.

"We got up a few and never really gave them a sniff," Kevin Koe said. "We kept it clean, were able to throw the big weight and were able to clean the house out most ends."

Kevin Koe said Simmons was not feeling well during the game.

"Because of that, it was good to get up a few and all he had to do was throw peels," Koe said.

There was a lively section in Credit Union Centre for the evening draw as half-dressed, green-painted male curling fans tossed Timbits into the stands and one to Quebec lead Steeve Villeneuve, who obligingly ate it.

When security arrived to have a word with them, the spectators booed so loud most of the curlers stopped what they were doing on the ice to watch.

Chants of "mind your manners" ensued, either for Saskatchewan's Manners or because they had been told to do so.

The mayhem was happening in the seats right beside Ontario's game against Northern Ontario.

"They were congenial and having fun and they didn't do it while I was throwing," Howard said. "As long as it didn't get ugly and they were sort of pro-everybody. Pro-themselves because I think they'd had a couple [drinks]."

Howard executed a long raise for the winner in a dramatic 6-5 win in an extra-end against Northern Ontario. Three of Ontario's four wins have gone to an extra end.

"We've had to grind out every win," Howard said. "It's a little more unusual for us, but we haven't been bringing the 'A' game. We're missing some shots and these guys are playing well against us. That's what happens, you go to the extra end and fortunately we're winning those extra-end games."

Glenn tied his brother Russ in Brier appearances with 14 this year and pulled even with his sibling for most career Brier games at 174 on Monday night. Glenn will set the new record Tuesday versus Saskatchewan.

"That's pretty cool. It just means I'm old," Howard said. "I had no idea until somebody mentioned it to me today. Obviously just being in Russ' company, same with the 14 appearances at the Brier being in Russ' company, because I think he's the greatest curler that ever lived."

Howard's lead Craig Savill was back in the lineup against Northern Ontario after sitting out two games with illness.

In other night draw action, the Territories downed Newfoundland, while B.C. edged Quebec 5-4 with the winning point coming down to a measurement.

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