Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fowler gets a little revenge against Koe clan

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SASKATOON -- Manitoba's Rob Fowler will head home from the 2012 Tim Hortons Brier with some extra cash and a bronze medal for his efforts over the last eight days.

And two of Fowler's players -- lead Derek Samagalski and third Allan Lyburn -- will head home with all-star awards.

Samagalski was named a first-team all star at the Brier awards banquet Sunday afternoon, while Lyburn was named a second team all star.

Also winning awards at the Brier banquet was Winnipeg's Len Dubyts, who was honoured with the Paul McLean award for his 40 years of work with CBC and TSN, and pioneering of the use of the remote overhead camera in curling broadcasts.

But the biggest win for Manitoba on Sunday came on the ice.

Still stinging from an 8-6 loss to Alberta's Kevin Koe in the Brier semifinal Saturday night, the Fowler foursome dusted themselves off Sunday morning and extracted some revenge on the Koe clan by defeating Jamie Koe of the Territories -- Kevin's brother -- 8-7 in an extra end in the bronze-medal game.

After struggling in playoff losses to Ontario Friday night and Alberta Saturday night, Fowler was the best player on the ice in the bronze-medal game, shooting a sizzling 90 per cent in the victory and drawing the four-foot with the final rock of the extra end to seal the victory.

"We didn't win the medal we wanted to win," said Fowler. "But after the week we had, it would have been very disappointing to have left empty-handed. We played an excellent game today and we needed an excellent game to win."

With the win, Brandon's Fowler -- with Lyburn, second Richard Daneault and Samagalski -- were awarded bronze medals in the closing ceremonies last night and will also head home from Saskatoon with a cheque for $30,000 as the third-place finishers this week. The Territories will receive a cheque for $20,000.

"It means a lot to finish off on a positive note," said Lyburn. "We had two games to get to the final and obviously didn't play up to par. So to play well and win the bronze medal means a lot. There was money at stake, we get on the podium tonight, we got extra TV coverage which maybe might lead to some sponsorships.

"You come for gold. But at an event like this, it's a couple inches difference between winning bronze and winning nothing."

Just ask Koe. It was a bittersweet ending for Yellowknife skip and his northern foursome, who will head home without a medal but also with the satisfaction of being the first Territories team in history to qualify for the playoffs at the Brier. The very first northern entry at the Brier in 1975 -- skipped by Whitehorse's Don Twa -- finished the round robin second overall, but there was no playoffs at the Brier that time.

Koe didn't seem overly concerned, however, about Sunday's result. He revealed after the game he had spent almost the entire previous night partying. "I got about 30 minutes of sleep and the boys had to get security in my room to open the door to wake me up,'' Koe said after the extra-end loss to Fowler. "It was bad. I actually felt pretty good. It's a fun week and you have to get up for the game somehow.''

Fowler joins Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones as a bronze medallist at the national championships this winter. Jones won bronze two weeks ago at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Red Deer, Alta.

LOOSEHAIRS: In addition to Lyburn, Alberta skip Kevin Koe and lead Nolan Thiessen, as well as Ontario second Brent Laing were named second-team all stars... In addition to Samagalski, the rest of the first team all stars were: Alberta second Carter Rycroft and Ontario third Wayne Middaugh and skip Glenn Howard.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2012 C1

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