Three teams remain unbeaten in A pool at Tim Hortons Brier
The first serious bids for a playoff spot at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, have been made, and is it any surprise that the names Brendan Bottcher, Kevin Koe and Matt Dunstone have made them?
That’s the way the script unfolded Monday morning at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge when the three teams many favour to earn a playoff spot in Pool A round-robin play kept their records spotless with dominant wins.
Skip Koe kept local fans smiling in leading Team Alberta (4-0, Calgary) to a 9-3 victory over Team Yukon (1-3, Whitehorse) skipped by Thomas Scoffin, while Dunstone’s team kept pace after his Team Wild Card #2 (4-0, Regina) knocked off skip Nathan Young’s Team Newfoundland and Labrador (1-3, St. John’s) 9-3 in Monday morning’s slate of four games.
Following close behind is defending Tim Hortons Brier champion Bottcher whose Team Canada (3-0, Edmonton) made short work of skip Tyler Smith’s Team Prince Edward Island (0-3, Crapaud), running away to a 11-4 victory.
The top three teams in each of the two nine-team pools qualify for the playoffs on the weekend.
Alberta was nursing a 4-2 lead after five ends but dispatched the plucky northerners with four points in the sixth end.
The Calgary skipper loves his position but says there’s still some tough sledding ahead.
“Obviously we’re in a good spot,” he said, “but we’ve got some tough games left. We still have Dunstone, New Brunswick. You got to get to six (wins) to know you’re in there.”
Koe is looking to become the first man to skip a team to five Tim Hortons Brier titles. Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey skipped Alberta to four titles in the early 2000s and played on two other Tim Hortons Brier championship teams as third. He’s also a four-time world champion.
Dunstone’s team from the Highland Curling Club in the Queen City was equally impressive. He ran off to an early 6-2 lead and put it on cruise control after that.
“In the driver’s seat, right where we want to be,” said Dunstone, who hangs his hat in Kamloops, B.C., host of next year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “Destiny is in our hands now and that’s a good spot to be.
“It’s all about energy management this week. That’s what we’ve learned the last couple of years and why we’ve had success in this event. Just being able to manage our energy levels and it’s no different this week.”
Bottcher, looking to advance to his fifth straight Tim Hortons Brier final and win back-to-back titles, put in another solid performance, which included a six in the seventh end.
“We came out there today and played another strong game,” said Bottcher. “Every game out here is tough, especially when you’re wearing the Maple Leaf. Everybody want to beat you.”
Bottcher admitted he’s enjoying the atmosphere in Lethbridge.
“I’ve been so fortunate,” he said. “This is already our sixth Brier and this feels like home. It’s amazing to have the fans back in the stands. I feel comfortable and just love being out there.”
In the only other game in the morning draw, skip Colton Flasch’s Team Saskatchewan (2-1, Saskatoon), took advantage of a key miss in the fifth by skip James Grattan to scored three en route to a 8-4 win over Team New Brunswick (1-3, Oromocto).
Glenn Howard’s Team Ontario (0-3, Penetanguishene) had the morning bye.
The undefeated will start tumbling, however, when they start to collide. That process will begin Monday evening when Alberta and Team Wild Card #2 square off.
The playoff begin Friday and the six teams will be further reduced to a Final Four and a Page playoff system.
The final goes Sunday, March 13.
The 2022 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Monday at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MT).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.
TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2022brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2022brier/nouvelles/?lang=fr