Kevin Martin was dethroned as Alberta’s provincial champion of the Boston Pizza Cup this past weekend after an unexpected comeback from Kevin Koe here in Lacombe.
“It feels great,” said Koe.
Martin and Koe have met several times in the provincial final before, each time with Martin coming out as the victor more often than not. Koe said whenever the two Kevins meet it is bound to be a close game.
“It seems whenever we play Kevin it’s a close final,” said Koe. “To finally beat him, especially in the way we’ve done it this week, battling back all week and even in this game, it feels awesome.”
It looked like smooth sailing for Team Martin up until halfway through the game. After going undefeated on the path to the final, it looked like Martin would make short work of Koe as well.
Martin started with the hammer and scored two in the first end and followed that up with a steal of one in the second.
In the third, Koe finally made it onto the scoreboard with a score of one that was quickly answered by Martin in the fourth.
It was the fifth end that turned things around.
Martin missed with his final rock and left Koe open with the hammer to score three rocks.
Koe said it was a lucky break for his team and a chance for him to turn his game around.
“I really struggled early in the game, I didn’t help the guys much at all. We got lucky in five.”
Martin and his teammates were visibly agitated as they left the ice for the break, but returned to the ice for the sixth end looking just as composed as before. Koe, who showed signs of obvious frustration in the first half, was also calm and looking just as cool and collected as Martin.
While neither team showed any outward signs of anxiety, the atmosphere in the arena was so tense you could cut it with a knife.
The remainder of the game was back and forth, with Martin scoring one in the sixth and Koe scoring two in the eighth.
Martin then blanked the ninth to keep the hammer and looked set to take the last end and the game.
But, on the very last stone of the game, Martin’s rock came to rest too far from the button, leaving one of Koe’s stones counting for the steal and the win.
Koe’s path to the championship was not nearly as direct as Martin’s. Team Koe lost, won and lost its first three games to land in the C event of the tournament, then won it to secure a place in the final.
This makes Koe the first to ever win the provincial championship without first winning the A event.
“Obviously we got off to a rough start,” said Koe. “But we battled and we hung in there.”
Koe also commented on what it was like to play in Lacombe saying that the community did a great job hosting the event.
“It was great,” said Koe. “Provincials in the smaller centres are always good. There were lots of people here all week, especially today (Feb. 8). It’s easy when it’s freezing out and the games are on TV to stay at home and watch but the arena was packed and everything about it was first class.”
Don Gullekson, chair of the Boston Pizza Cup committee, said he couldn’t have been happier with how the event ran overall.
“How much better can it get?” said Gullekson. He added that everything from the venue, to volunteer effort, to entertainment, to the curling was top notch.
“I can’t find one fault with the whole week,” said Gullekson. He added that the final match of the tournament, Kevin versus Kevin, was a ‘dream final’ for the organizers. “You couldn’t have asked for a better game.”