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Alberta continues to improve at Tim Horton Brier

Brendan Bottcher and his rookie Alberta team continued to shake off the horrors of an 0-3 start to the Tim Hortons Brier Tuesday.

The Edmonton-based crew cracked deuces in the second, third and fourth ends to cruise to a 10-3 win over Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (1-5; Yellowknife) in the afternoon’s ninth draw.

“The last three or four games I felt we’ve been playing more ourselves and better,” Bottcher said after his second win in his past three outings to improve to 2-4. “A couple of wins certainly feels nice but we’re playing well and that means a lot to me.”

Bottcher admitted it took himself, vice-skip Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen, lead Karrick Martin, alternate Evan Asmussen and coach Kevin Martin a little longer than anticipated to get their feet under them.

Alberta skip Brendan Bottcher calls instructions to his sweepers. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“But I’m proud we’re pulling it together now and we’re not letting the whole week go in the garbage. You get off to a start like that it would be easy to just pack it in and say, well I guess we’re learning the first one and moving on.”

Meanwhile Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie), with vice-skip Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Lee Toner and coach Caleb Flaxey kept pace with the front-runners with an easy 8-3 win over Jamie Murphy of Nova Scotia (2-4; Halifax).

That moved Northern Ontario to 5-1, just behind unbeaten Manitoba (5-0).

“A really good game, lead to skip, and something we hope we can bring tonight,” E.J Harnden said of the game that ended after eight ends. “We’re thankful we’re off the ice early, we know we’re going to need all the energy we have inside us for the game tonight.”

That game will be against hometown hero Brad Gushue in front of a packed house that will be cheering every shot that helps Newfoundland and Labrador, even when it’s a miss by Northern Ontario.

“We got a taste of it in the opening ceremony and every draw since,” Harnden said of the noise and atmosphere inside Mile One Centre. “Every time Brad’s on the ice it’s loud and energetic. That’s the way we expected it to be and the way we want it to be. We’ll try to feed off that energy.”

Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs picked up another victory on Tuesday afternoon. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The situation, he said, will be similar to the Olympics in Russia “where it was best when we were playing Russia because they were watching our game. It’ll be the same tonight so when there’s a roar or a bit of a lull it’ll be focused on our game.”

In the two other afternoon games, Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (3-2; Lévis) beat John Morris of British Columbia (3-3; Vernon-Kelowna) 5-4 in 11 ends, and Adam Casey of Saskatchewan (3-3; Regina) also needed an extra end to get past Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (1-5; Fredericton).

Manitoba’s Mike McEwen (5-0; Winnipeg), Kevin Koe and Team Canada (4-1; Calgary), Newfoundland and Labrador (3-2; St. John’s) and Ontario’s Glenn Howard (1-4; Etobicoke) had the byes.

Tonight’s draw goes at 8 p.m. NST.

For ticket and other event information, http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/draw/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2017brier/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.