By Matt Hames
Capital One photo by Anil Mungal
MISSISSAUGA – Robbery. Theft. Anguish.
Going into this game, Team Koe had lost the last five Grand Slam finals they've played in. Make it six, and this one might actually leave a mark.
So what happened?
Two of the first four shots that Glenn Howard threw were half rock peels that were just trying to get the team out of a pickle. As we posted on Twitter, Koe was all over Howard like a cheap suit.
Indeed, it seemed like Koe was going to cruise to a victory. But a funny thing happened on the way to victory.
It's not as simple to say that this game was lost when Blake MacDonald jammed in the fourth end. At that point, Koe was cruising and looked to be comfortable in forcing Howard to one. But all of a sudden, a jam and Howard gets a gift deuce, and a new outlook on life.
But it's more than that. Because Koe came through with a couple of great shots to bail out Blake. So the game wasn't over, but the domination was. From that point on, Koe had his only difficulties in the match. A triple for one in six (WCPA boss Pierre Charette called the blank, and he was very nearly right).
And in seven, Team Howard just keep coming, forcing run back after run back after run back. Howard gets his first lead in seven but it still wasn't over.
Koe had some chances in eight to get the deuce, but left some shots on the sheet. Still, in the final analysis, full credit is due them.
But as Koe tries to break into the top of curling, this is the kind of game they'll have to close. They can beat Howard, Martin, Ferby and Gushue. No one would be surprised by them winning anything. But the great teams close when they have a change.
And conversely, truly great teams stay in there even when they're struggling. That was Team Howard. They struggled early, but like they always seem to, they hung in there. They stole one in the last end to win 6-4, but more so, they stole this game.
They don't rattle, and don't stop believing even when the other team throws everything at them. They are world class, and tough to beat every time they step out on the ice.