Team Canada closing in!
Team Canada capitalizes on Wild Card #2 gamble to remain unbeaten at Tim Hortons Brier
Take a gamble and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Wednesday morning at the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, Team Wild Card #2 gambled in the ninth end, giving up two points to Team Canada that ultimately led to an 8-7, extra-end win for the defending champions.
Skip Brendan Bottcher made a routine hit-and-stick for the wining single in the 11th end to keep Team Canada (6-0, Edmonton) unbeaten and claim a playoff berth. The loss for Matt Dunstone and Team Wild Card #2 (6-1, Regina) means they still haven’t secured a playoff berth with one game remaining.
“In the last couple of years, with the five-rock rule, I think you’ve seen the top teams, if they can have hammer coming home they want it, even if that means down one,” Bottcher said of the ninth-end decision by Team Wild Card #2. “They flashed on the screen Dunstone was converting 55 per cent of their hammers (meaning they scored two points or more with the last rock) so the math would suggest it’s a good decision. But in the moment it’s a coin toss.”
In the moment, the 10th end, Team Canada prevented Team Wild Card #2 from setting up the end and ultimately forced Dunstone to make a pressure last-rock tapback for one and turn the hammer back over to Bottcher.
“A little bit of gamble, we could have played the hit and roll, try to get under and hope lightning strikes again like it did in the (Alberta’s Kevin) Koe game and we steal one,” Dunstone said of the ninth-end decision to give Team Canada the chance to score two, which they did, rather than allow them to blank. “With the hammer before we scored three deuces so that was kind of the deciding point, that we were pretty good at scoring deuces today.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to put more pressure on Brendan. This game is all about bending people until they break and that was one more opportunity, pretty low risk.”
But Bottcher, vice-skip Pat Janssen, second Brad Thiessen, lead Karrick Martin, alternate Aaron Sluchinski and coach Don Bartlett didn’t break.
“Luckily we played a good end, forced them to one and keep hammer in the extra,” Bottcher said. “You have to stay focused, one half-shot is an easy deuce and the last thing you want to do is give them an easy deuce. I think we made eight good shots that end.”
The teams traded deuces much of the game, including a stolen deuce for the reigning champs in the fourth end, until Team Wild Card #2 forced Team Canada to take a single in seven and then scored two in eight for a 6-5 edge.
Although top spot in Pool A remains unsettled, Team Canada now has the tiebreaker advantage over Wild Card #2. Team Alberta, at 5-1 and Team Saskatchewan, at 4-2, still remain factors.
Canada plays Koe and Team Alberta in the evening draw – Dunstone and crew have the bye – before both play their final round-robin games on Thursday: Canada plays Newfoundland and Labrador while Wild Card #2 takes on Team Saskatchewan.
Colton Flasch and Team Saskatchewan (4-2, Regina) kept their playoff hopes in place with a 12-3 win over Thomas Scoffin and Team Yukon (1-5, Whitehorse). Saskatchewan scored three in the fifth and stole five in the sixth when Scoffin was heavy on his last-rock draw.
In a game pitting the youngest team here – Nathan Young and Team Newfoundland-Labrador (1-5, St. John’s) and the oldest player here, skip Glenn Howard of Team Ontario (2-4, Penetanguishene) the veteran schooled the kids with a 7-3 win.
In the other Pool A game James Grattan of Team New Brunswick (2-5, Oromocto) beat Team Prince Edward Island (1-5, Crapaud) skipped by Tyler Smith 9-3.
The 18 teams are split into two pools of nine and will play a complete eight-game round robin. The top three teams in each pool advance to the playoffs where the field 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 today at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. 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