Flasch Bomb!

Colton Flasch calls to his teammates during Sweep 16 action Wednesday at the 2022 PointsBet Invitational in Fredericton, N.B. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team Flasch takes the ‘W’ in draw to the button challenge at PointsBet Invitational

Fans witness a handful of new teams rise from infancy to become mainstay contenders on the competitive circuit every curling quadrennial. 

Brad Jacobs raised to prominence in 2013, while Brendan Bottcher found his footing as a Tim Hortons Brier mainstay in 2017. The newest one could be a team fans are already familiar with, as it seems to have found a lineup that is striking gold in the land of gold and green. 

Saskatoon’s Team Colton Flasch has the inside track to become Saskatchewan’s next team to watch over the next few years of curling. The No. 7 team at the 2022 PointsBet Invitational took another step forward in that goal with a Sweep 16 victory against Edmonton’s No. 10 Team Karsten Sturmay. Team Flasch scored two in the 10th end to tie the game and defeat Team Sturmay in a draw to the button challenge for a 6-5 win.

Flasch put his draw right on the button and was the unquestioned victor in front of the fans at Willie O’Ree Place in Fredericton on Wednesday night.

“It was just a grind of a game. We didn’t have our best stuff out there today, but we made the shots when it mattered,” Flasch said.

In the seventh end, Team Flasch aimed for a blank or force of one but gave up a steal to Team Sturmay. It forced Team Flasch into an aggressive 10th end with every rock in play. Flasch tapped his shot stone up just enough to score the two – albeit needing a measure – which brought the event’s first draw to the button challenge.

Team Bottcher’s Ben Hebert, left, and Brett Gallant ponder shot options. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We had to play the in-turn draw, which no one had played all game. We were lucky enough to throw it in the eighth end, and that was the first time it was thrown since the second end. We gave it a good guess, and the guys judged it well,” Flasch said of his team’s final shot. “It was curling so much on the sheet because of the crowd side there.”

Team Flasch is coming off an 8-4 run at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier as Team Saskatchewan and is poised to continue that momentum this season. Flasch’s team – vice-skip Catlin Schneider, second Kevin Marsh and lead Daniel Marsh – maintained its lineup and is continuing with that momentum, losing only one game in each of the two events this season.

However, to win the $50,000 prize at the PointsBet Invitational, they’ll have to go a flawless four wins and no losses. Team Flasch takes on Team Bottcher of Calgary on Friday at 4 p.m. (all times Atlantic).

In other Sweep 16 action, No. 2 Team Brendan Bottcher (Calgary) defeated No. 15 Team Landan Rooney 11-3.

Team Rooney started the game with the last stone after defeating Team Bottcher in the opening draw to the button and opened the game with a single point. The team held its own against a team crowned with two combined Olympic golds, five world men’s curling titles and 12 Tim Hortons Brier championships. 

Rooney and his team from the Whitby Curling Club are using the PointsBet Invitational as a launching pad into an eventful season. The reigning 2022 New Holland Canadian men’s champions will represent Canada at the 2023 World Junior Men’s Curling Championship in Fuessen, Germany, from Feb. 25 – March 4. 

“We got Botch-Bombed,” Rooney said with a laugh. “A couple of years ago, I would have been saying to the guys, ‘you want to go watch the PointsBet Invitational?’ and they’d be like ‘yeah!’. So now we get to play in it, which is super cool. At first, I didn’t really know what the event was about, but after learning more about the single-knockout, it just seemed super awesome to be a part of. It’s really good to be playing on arena ice as well because we have worlds coming up this year, so it’s been a super good experience.”

So far, the team has had a training camp in Edmonton, followed by competing in the U-25 NextGen Classic. Despite the first-round knockout, Team Rooney will be busy in Fredericton over the next couple of days. They’ll train on the arena ice at Willie O’Ree Place alongside Canada’s junior women’s Team Emily Deschenes, competing in its first PointsBet Invitational game on Thursday. 

Rooney displayed a lot of grit on the ice and made a draw to the button against four in the fifth end for a single point. Bottcher controlled the remainder of the game, but it was a good learning experience for the young team members preparing to wear the Maple Leaf for the first time in their careers.

“Honestly, it was fun. Just being able to play against guys like Brett Gallant and Ben Hebert. They’re guys I’ve looked up to my entire life, and just to be on the same sheet of ice as them is a really cool experience.” “Those guys are really good and supportive. I could ask them anything about their experience being Team Canada, and they would answer.”

At 60 years old, Glenn Howard (Penetanguishene, Ont.) shows no signs of slowing down. His No. 6-ranked team bested No. 11, Team Félix Asselin, 11-2 and will move on to the Elite Eight. Howard kept Asselin off the board until the fifth end.

Team Matt Dunstone (Winnipeg), seeded No. 3, took out fan-vote favourite No. 14 Team Greg Smith (St. John’s, N.L.) 15-2 in the opening round by jumping to an early five-point lead after three ends of play. 

The 2022 PointsBet Invitational continues Thursday with Sweep 16 women’s play at 2 p.m. and men’s play at 7 p.m.

On Friday, the remaining eight women’s (11 a.m.) and eight men’s (4 p.m.) teams will compete in the Elite Eight round, followed by the Celebrity Invitational at 8 p.m.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 PointsBet Invitational are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2022 PointsBet Invitational. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2022 PointsBet Invitational, go to www.curling.ca/2022pointsbetinvitational/tickets/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2022pointsbetinvitational/nouvelles/?lang=fr