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First round of Brier Battle of Alberta goes to Airdrie’s Aaron Sluchinski

A different kind of Battle of Alberta took place Friday night at the Montana’s Brier in Regina, where Alberta skip Aaron Sluchinski’s rink doubled up an Alberta icon, Kevin Koe, by an 8-4 score.

Sluchinski took enough advantage of Koe’s early struggles with draw weight to prevail in his foursome’s Brier debut, although the skip felt he let his opponent back into the game.

“Pretty big relief because my guys played so good,” Sluchinski said. “I was kind of a donkey out there, but I was able to make just enough shots to seal the win. I needed to put it away a little bit better.

“It was awesome to go out there and play in front of our fans, and first Brier win feels good.”

Koe had a shot in the tenth end of extending the match, but missed a takeout on his final rock, allowing Sluchinski to steal two and pad his margin to 8-4.

Sluchinski extended his win streak over four-time Brier champion Koe to three in a row. Sluchinski beat Koe in both a playoff game and the final of the Alberta’s men’s championship.

Alberta third Jeremy Harty shot 91 per cent in his first-ever Brier game.

Afterward, he suggested Brier fans wondering who Sluchinski is should google him.

“If you’ve watched any of our YouTube games, he makes some crazy shots to win games for us or keep us in games – he’s just fun to watch when he gets into that zone.”

Even though he shot 91 per cent, Harty conceded there were a few nerves at the team’s Brier debut.

“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “I felt like we had nerves at the hotel, and then once we got on the ice, and settled in after the first couple ends, it was better, but for sure nerves – playing in our first Brier, in front of a packed crowd.”

Sluchinski’s team has Saturday off. The other two Alberta entries are both in action. Brendan Bottcher takes on Andrew Symond’s Newfoundland rink at noon, while Koe’s rink takes on brother Jamie’s Northwest Territories rink at 5 p.m.

With files from The Canadian Press

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