Homan, Koe advance to Olympics

The Canadian Press
Gregory Strong

OTTAWA–A semi-final loss at the 2013 Olympic Trials left the members of Team Homan crushed.
It may have been the best thing that ever happened to them.
Skip Rachel Homan and her teammates made some changes for this quadrennial. And their efforts paid off yesterday when they booked their Olympic ticket with a 6-5 win over Chelsea Carey in the final of the Tim Hortons “Roar of the Rings.”
“You really have to lose before you win because you sometimes don’t know how to win,” said former Team Homan coach Earle Morris.
Later in the evening, Calgary’s Kevin Koe earned the men’s Olympic berth with a 7-6 victory over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Koe said. “Obviously it’s unbelievable.”
Sherry Middaugh beat Homan four years ago in Winnipeg before falling to Jennifer Jones, who went on to win gold at the Sochi Games.
This time around, Jones was dispatched by Homan in the semi-finals.
The Ottawa skip then topped Carey for the title in front of a boisterous home crowd.
“We just kept getting better and better as the week went on,” Homan noted.
Carey was down two with hammer in the 10th end. Her double-takeout attempt only cleared one of Homan’s stones and the celebration was on at Canadian Tire Centre.
Homan and third Emma Miskew jumped in each other’s arms, and quickly were joined by lead Lisa Weagle and second Joanne Courtney.
“[To win] in our hometown, we couldn’t have written a better story,” Homan said.
“We can’t wait to represent Canada in Pyeongchang.”
The men’s final was a back-and-forth battle that also went the distance.
Koe forced McEwen to a single in the ninth end to get hammer coming home.
Then in the 10th, McEwen had one stone biting the top of the four-foot and one at the back.
Koe’s team put everything they had into the sweep and the draw gave them the winning point.
“What a game, we beat a great team,” Koe said. “It came down to last shot and I’m glad we had last rock.
“I honestly wasn’t sure it was going to make it but what sweeping by the boys.”
This will be the first Olympic appearance for Koe and second Brent Laing. Lead Ben Hebert and third Marc Kennedy won Olympic gold in 2010 with skip Kevin Martin.
Hebert threw his broom in the air when the winning stone settled.
“We emptied the tank on that one,” he admitted.
“Thankfully we got it there and now we get to celebrate.”
Koe earned a berth in the final by taking first place in round-robin play with a 7-1 record.
McEwen, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld, and third B.J. Neufeld beat Team Gushue of St. John’s, N.L. in the semi-final to advance.
Homan’s lone loss in round-robin play was to Carey, who posted eight-straight wins to get to the final.
In the championship game, Homan was aggressive at times and kept the mistakes to a minimum.
Carey, meanwhile, made some errors, including a missed peel in the first end that gave Homan an early lead.
A second steal followed and the crowd ate it up.
The momentum had shifted to Homan and she controlled the game the rest of the way.
“That game was won on inches here and there,” Homan said.
“I’m just really proud of my team for sticking with it and battling through.”
Carey’s lone loss came at the worst time. Her final throw over-curled just a touch and it proved costly.
“I had to hit it half-an-inch thinner but that was kind of the story of the game,” Carey said.
“We were really close to lots of good stuff and it just wasn’t our day.”