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Bottcher ends Gushue’s hopes of third straight Tim Hortons Brier championship

BRANDON, Man. – A picked rock and a punch-out for four points sent Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card (Edmonton) into the semifinal of the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, and ended Brad Gushue and Team Canada’s (St. John’s, N.L.) hopes for a record-tying third consecutive championship.

Bottcher emerged with a 7-2 win in the Page playoff 3-4 game and now plays the loser of tonight’s Page 1-2 game between Alberta’s Kevin Koe (Calgary) and Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs (Sault Ste. Marie) at Westoba Place.

Team Canada’s Brad Gushue reacts to his shot picking in the second end, resulting in a steal of one at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The pick came early, in the second end, and was a huge turning point. Gushue’s final stone picked halfway down the ice, leaving Bottcher with a steal of one. Had Gushue made his shot – a relatively straight-forward tap-back – he would have scored two.

“Pick was the story of the game,” said an obviously disappointed Gushue. “Get two in the second end and you can really dictate the play, control the game and when it flips and all of a sudden they have a one-point lead and you feel like you’re chasing, especially under those circumstances.

“It’s really disappointing, probably one of the top three of four worst breaks I’ve had in my career…disappointing the run ended on those terms.”

For Bottcher it was a successful tale of two ends. After the big break in two, Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin, patiently waited for another chance and they got it in the eighth end.

Moulding executed two superb picks to eliminate Gushue stones and Bottcher put the exclamation point on the end with a heavyweight punch-out of Team Canada’s counter to score four, en route to the victory.

“We got a bit of a rocky start (in the end), but the big turning point was Darren’s pick and when he made that we felt we were slowly opening up the four-foot,” said Bottcher. “Then he made it again, we kept inching that back rock further back and it worked well from there.

“Brad was pushing hard for a force or a steal and we got a coupe of half-shots out of him at the end and that was really the game.”

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallows and coach Jules Owchar got their one point back in the third and the teams traded singles in the fifth and sixth before Bottcher broke it open in the eighth.

The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continues with tonight’s draw at 7 p.m.  CST.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2019 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 2019 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2019brier/tickets.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019brier/?lang=fr

About John Korobanik