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Koe beats Jacobs in Brier semifinal to advance to gold-medal game

Team Alberta skip Kevin Koe (C) watches his team's shot as Team Northern Ontario skip Brad Jacobs (L) and third Ryan Fry look on during their semi-final game at the Brier curling championships in Ottawa, Canada, March 12, 2016.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Alberta's Kevin Koe defeated Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs 6-5 in Saturday night's semifinal at the Tim Hortons Brier at TD Place.

The teams alternated singles until Koe scored a pair in the 10th end. A measure confirmed the second point.

With the victory, Koe advanced to Sunday's gold-medal game against Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador. Gushue qualified for the final with his comeback win over Jacobs in the Page Playoff 1-2 game on Friday night.

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Koe reached the semifinal with a 7-5 win over Mike McEwen of Manitoba in the Page Playoff 3-4 game on Saturday afternoon. Jacobs will play McEwen for bronze on Sunday.

Jacobs started with hammer and scored a single in the opening end. Both teams used a steady, conservative approach and alternated singles.

There were plenty of rocks in play but neither rink was able to pull away. Jacobs had a chance for two in the seventh end but his draw was heavy and he settled for one.

He had another chance in the ninth when he took out two Koe stones but he tapped his own stone out of the rings as well.

In the early game, Koe never trailed after opening the scoring with a pair in the second end.

"They executed perfectly," McEwen said. "They got their deuce and forced us. That's not a very good feeling when a team is playing well. We saw (Friday) night that Gushue overcame that so we knew there was a chance.

"But we needed some help on their part and we didn't get any."

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McEwen got on the board in the third with a single. He wrecked on a guard with his first throw in the fourth and had to make a nice double takeout just to leave Koe laying one.

The veteran Alberta skip delivered with a draw for the pair to move ahead 4-1. Koe kept the pressure on and forced McEwen to give up a steal of one in the fifth.

After the teams exchanged singles, McEwen drew the four-foot for a pair to cut the deficit to two points. Koe scored a single in the ninth and ran McEwen out of rocks in the 10th for the win.

Koe threw at a clip of 91 per cent while McEwen was at 86 per cent. Alberta was at 93 per cent overall to 91 per cent for Manitoba.

Jacobs defeated Koe 8-3 in their round-robin game. Northern Ontario swept the round-robin before suffering its first loss of the competition to Gushue.

McEwen, who is making his Brier debut, was the fourth seed after finishing with an 8-3 round-robin record.

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"You could have an amazing weekend and not win this," McEwen said. "We played really well and I'm still happy with being here on the weekend."

Announced attendance at TD Place was 8,424 for the afternoon game. Evening semifinal numbers weren't immediately available.

Pat Simmons defeated Jacobs in last year's Brier final in Calgary. Simmons missed the playoffs this year after settling for a fifth-place finish in the round-robin standings.

The Brier champion will represent Canada at the men's world curling championship next month in Basel, Switzerland. The victor will also qualify for this year's Canada Cup in Brandon, Man., the 2017 Continental Cup in Las Vegas and will return as Team Canada at next year's Brier in St. John's.

In women's play, Chelsea Carey won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in Grande Prairie, Alberta. She will wear the Maple Leaf at the upcoming women's world curling championship in Swift Current, Sask.

Jacobs and third Ryan Fry were named to the first all-star team during a break in the semifinal. Alberta second Brent Laing and Manitoba lead Denni Neufeld also took first-team honours.

Alberta lead Ben Hebert and Northern Ontario lead E.J. Harnden were named to the second team along with Gushue and third Mark Nichols of Newfoundland and Labrador in voting by the Canadian Curling Reporters.

B.C. second Tyrel Griffith won the Ross Harstone Trophy for good sportsmanship. Winnipeg Free Press columnist Paul Wiecek was given the Paul McLean Award for his contribution to curling as a sports media member.

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