Manitoba and British Columbia did their jobs by winning their games Thursday evening and now they wait to see what Alberta does Friday in the final draw at the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by SecurTek.
If Alberta beats Quebec in the 8:30 a.m. PT draw they will play Manitoba in the Page 1-2 playoff game in the evening. If Alberta loses their opponent will be B.C. Whoever does not play Alberta will play in the Page 3-4 game.
“It’s kind of interesting, Kevin (Koe) can actually pick who he wants to play,” said Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton. “If he loses he plays B.C., if he wins he plays us. But if he wins he gets hammer and colour of rocks and that’s pretty important so I’m sure he’ll be out to win.”
Stoughton and his team of third Jon Mead, second Mark Nichols, lead Reid Carruthers, alternate Garth Smith and coach Rob Meakin, fell behind early but rallied to get past Greg Balsdon of Ontario 8-6.
John Morris and his B.C. rink of third Jim Cotter who throws fourth stones, second Tyrel Griffith, lead Rick Sawatsky, alternate Jody Epp and coach Pat Ryan scored deuces in the second and fifth ends enroute to a 6-3 victory over Steve Laycock of Saskatchewan.
In the other Draw 16 games, Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador beat Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories/Yukon 9-2 and Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec got past Jeff Currie of Northern Ontario 7-4.
The results left B.C. and Manitoba at 9-2 behind Alberta at 9-1. Quebec and Saskatchewan are at 6-4 followed by Newfoundland-Labrador 6-5, New Brunswick 5-5, Ontario 4-6, Territories/Yukon and P.E.I. 3-7, Northern Ontario 2-9 and Nova Scotia 0-10.
Manitoba gave up three in the opening end but came back with deuces in the second, fourth and eighth ends.
“Seems like that was the theme of the week” Stoughton said of falling behind early. “He (Balsdon) made a double raise double or something like that, a great shot. So we move on to the next end, get our deuce and keep battling back.”
Morris and B.C. took the opposite route, scoring two in the second and fifth ends, then stealing one in the eighth.
“We are real happy,” Morris said of his positioning, even if they have to go through the 3-4 route. “If you would have said at the start of the week we’d be 9-2 at the Brier we’d be really happy. It was a real good round robin. I’m proud of our team for playing so well. This is the best we have played as unit all year.”
Meanwhile, Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador kept their playoff hopes alive with their wins.
“We need some help from Alberta or we play a tiebreaker,” said Laycock. “If we lose we are really hoping for Alberta to win and then probably playing in three tiebreakers.”
Saskatchewan will play New Brunswick.
Menard struggled against Northern Ontario until he cracked a three-ender in the seventh that kept him in the hunt.
“If you can play your 11th game in the Brier and it means something, it’s always good,” he said. “I hate playing games that are meaningless. Tomorrow we have a big one. We control our destiny. It won’t be an easy, but we have had some decent success against the top teams.”
Depending on the outcomes of the final draw there could be only one team at 7-4 and no tiebreakers or there could be as many as four teams – Quebec, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland-Labrador and New Brunswick – all at 6-5, creating tiebreakers that would begin Friday afternoon.
All draws for the Tim Hortons Brier will be televised live on TSN/RDS 2, the official broadcasting partner of the Season of Champions.
Live scoring is available at: www.curling.ca/scoreboard/?e=19
To purchase tickets to the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by SecurTek, go to: www.curling.ca/2014brier-en/tickets/
The French version of this story will be available at www.curling.ca/2014brier-fr/ as soon as possible.