Tim Hortons Brier Battle of Golden Bears goes to Bottcher

REGINA – It was almost like a game back in the day at the U of A. Almost, but not quite, because this was a battle in the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic.

Alberta (Edmonton) skip Brendan Bottcher defeated his old University of Alberta teammate, Yukon (Whitehorse) skip Thomas Scoffin 7-5 Tuesday afternoon to improve to 4-1 in Pool A round-robin play.

Scoffin served as alternate for Bottcher’s 2014 University of Alberta team that won a silver medal at the 2014 Canadian university championships held here in Regina. Scoffin then took over and made it to the university final three times, including winning in 2015. Now he’s back home in Whitehorse.

“It was a lot of fun today playing against a former Golden Bear,” said Bottcher. “To have one at the Brier was pretty special. The two of us go way back, maybe even way back to juveniles we played against each other, even before we both got into the U of A program.

Scoffin (1-4) put a scare in Bottcher with a steal in the sixth end to go ahead 4-3.

“It was pretty neat to be playing each other after all this time at the Brier,” said Scoffin. “It was a good game. Obviously we wished we would have capitalized on a few more shots out there. We had our chances, and it was a good back-and-forth battle, and both teams feel like they left a little bit out on the ice.”

Bottcher needed the win because he’s got a wicked Wednesday ahead of him with defending world champion Team Canada (5-0) in the morning and Team Wild Card (4-1) at night.

“We’re on a bit of a roll, but we have the tough part of the schedule coming up here. So we really needed to build and try and have a good game and try to lead into tomorrow on a good note,” said Bottcher, who is supported by third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin.

Scoffin plays with third Tom Appelman of Edmonton, his father Wade at second, lead Steve Fecteau, alternate Clint Ireland and coach Jeff Hoffart.

Team Canada (St. John’s) kept out in front in Pool A by defeating Nova Scotia (Halifax), skipped by Jamie Murphy (2-3) 9-5. Although pleased with the unblemished record there’s still room for improvement, according to skip Brad Gushue.

“We’re just making a couple of silly mistakes, that we need to clean up,” said Gushue.

Mike McEwen guides his Team Wild Card sweepers during Tuesday afternoon’s win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team Wild Card (Winnipeg) bounced back from a loss to Team Canada Monday night by blowing out Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) 10-3. leaving Jamie Koe’s team at 2-3. After scoring with the hammer in the first end, skip Mike McEwen stole three in the second, two in third and another in the fourth.

“We need to sharpen up a bit. We were good (against Koe), but they were off a little bit, had a bad pick that sort of the landslide came. Things sort of got out of hand. It’ll be interesting to see if our next couple of games if we get tested how we respond,” said McEwen, who was philosophical about the loss to Team Canada.

“Anytime you’re playing one of the best teams in the world, and they bring their A game, you can’t really lose sleep over it, and I’m sure they’ve felt the same when we’ve beat them,” said McEwen. “Our best Canadian teams are so good, if they bring they’re A game, they’re going to win. Brad was that good, I thought, and we’re going to have to be close to that down the week to have a chance to win.”

Despite going down 4-0 after two ends, it was all British Columbia (Kelowna) the rest of the way as Sean Geall picked up his first win by downing Newfoundland/Labrador (St. John’s), skipped by 21-year-old Greg Smith, 12-6. Both teams are 1-4.

It was the first game back for B.C. lead David Harper after he left Saturday to be home with his wife for the expected birth of their second child. But it turned out to be a false alarm and he’s been on a whirlwind of airports and flights trying to dodge snowstorms to get back to Regina.

“Just not quite there yet, everything seems to be good. My wife said, ‘Go, you need to go back and play a game and live out your dream,’ ” said Harper. “Honestly I thought I was heading home but the curling gods were with me and I got to came out to live my dream here.”

The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with a draw today at 7 p.m. and draws Wednesday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier. Go to www.tsn.ca/2017-18-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.593081 for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2018brier/tickets/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2018brier/?lang=fr