Down to the wire!
Team Alberta scores nail-biting win over defending champs at Tim Hortons Brier
Alberta curling fans, who are as loyal as anybody in sports, were put in a unique situation Wednesday evening at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI.
Who do you support when two Alberta teams are playing against each other in a game with equal pressure and buildup?
As it turns out, the good folks who turned out in great numbers at the ENMAX Centre in Lethbridge did the right thing, cheering good shots from both sides, but were ultimately elated to see skip Kevin Koe’s Team Alberta (6-1, Calgary) get the better of Team Canada (6-1, Edmonton) 5-4 in the most anticipated game of Tim Hortons Brier week.
The game carried considerable weight for Team Alberta. The win created a three-way tie for first place in Pool A with skip Matt Dunstone’s Team Wild Card #2 (6-1, Regina) also in the mix, and with one game left to play each, it will be a final sprint to the finish line.
Depending on what happens on the final draw, positions could be decided by the last stone draw standings.
The top three teams in each of the two, nine-team pools advance to the playoffs. The top team in each pool earns a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re in a good spot but we gotta win tomorrow,” said Koe, who is looking to become the first man to skip a team to five Tim Hortons Brier titles.
Koe closes out his schedule against Team Prince Edward Island Thursday.
Skip Colton Flasch’s Team Saskatchewan (5-2, Saskatoon) remained the only other team in the playoff hunt, but just barely. Flasch posted a must-win 8-3 win Wednesday over skip Nathan Young’s Team Newfoundland & Labrador, and has to hope the curling gods are smiling on him Thursday in a crucial match against Team Wild Card #2. It will be a rematch of the Saskatchewan provincial final this season.
Koe jumped into a quick 3-0 lead after two ends, making Bottcher come to him. And he did with three in the third end. Five straight blanks followed until Team Canada stole one in the ninth when Koe tried to blank the end with a double takeout and missed.
Koe, though, set up a nice final end and was able, after considerable discussion, to play a delicate open hit when Bottcher was unable to hit and roll slightly, leaving his shot exposed. Koe came down and hit for the winning deuce.
“It was a game of inches,” said Bottcher. “I had to make an absolutely perfect shot and hit it on the nose. But it was a great game. We’ve played so many great games together.”
Meanwhile, in other games, Glenn Howard skipped Team Ontario (3-4, Penetanguishene) to a 13-5 victory over Team Prince Edward Island (1-6, Crapaud) skipped by Tyler Smith, and skip James Grattan’s Team New Brunswick (3-5, Oromocto) finished off its eight-game schedule with a 13-5 win over skip Thomas Scoffin’s Team Yukon (1-6, Whitehorse).
The 2022 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Thursday with draws at 8:30 a.m., 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