Team Bottcher first to 3-0!
Team Wild Card #1 rolls to 3-0 record at Tim Hortons Brier
What’s the chance of an Alberta team winning the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, this year in London, Ont.?
Pretty good when you consider four-time Canadian champion Kevin Koe and 2021 winner Brendan Bottcher of Calgary are skips in the field.
The event is only three days out of the starting blocks and already Teams Alberta (Koe) and Wild Card #1 (Bottcher) have won all five games they’ve played, and looked good in every one of them. And let’s not forget skip Karsten Sturmay’s Team Wild Card #3 (1-1, St. Albert), also representing Wild Rose Country.
Team Wild Card #1 became the first 3-0 team Sunday afternoon after Bottcher skipped his Calgary-Glencoe crew to a hard-fought 8-4 win over Team Ontario (2-1, Toronto) headed by Mike McEwen. It was one of four Pool B games slated Sunday afternoon at Budweiser Gardens.
The highly anticipated game wasn’t quite as advertised. There were few rocks in play for the first five ends, more wide-open misses than anyone could have expected, and scoring at a minimum.
McEwen held a 2-1 lead at the fifth-end break and it took until the sixth end for the two teams to mix it up. But it turned out to be the key end as Bottcher made an up-weight triple takeout to score four when McEwen placed his last rock in a bad spot.
“In all honesty it wasn’t a great end of curling, probably out of both teams” said Bottcher. “There were a pile of rocks behind the T-line. I really didn’t think anyone was making any of those freezes perfect. But we had a half miss on his (McEwen) last one and were able to have a few hangers.
“It’s always nice to make a last, big shot. Cracking the game open with a four-ender was huge.”
McEwen wasn’t totally crushed by the loss. He was handed a tough opening schedule, having to play the top two seeds in his pool early, and got through it relatively unscathed.
Meanwhile, skip Brad Gushue’s Team Canada (2-1, St. John’s, N.L.) rebounded from a rare loss at a Tim Hortons Brier, cruising to a 13-9 triumph over winless Team New Brunswick (0-3, Moncton) skipped by Scott Jones.
Team Gushue, smarting from a loss to Team Ontario the night before, was locked in a tight 4-4 struggle after five ends but broke the game open with a four-ender in the sixth.
Gushue and Koe are looking to secure a fifth title as skip at the Canadian men’s curling championship.
It was a big day for the Thomas Scoffin-skipped Team Yukon (1-2, Whitehorse) which scored a popular 10-8 win over Team British Columbia (0-2, Victoria) skipped by Jacques Gauthier. The win was special for Scoffin who got to play with his dad, Wade, who was inserted in the game as an alternate for injured Joe Wallingham.
“Any Brier win is special,” said Thomas Scoffin, “but getting on the ice with my dad and getting the win is cool.”
Wade Scoffin said he was “super proud” to be part of the win.
“I’m just happy to be part of the team,” he said. “These are great guys and I just wanted to help them get stronger.”
In the only other game, Félix Asselin’s Team Quebec (2-1, Glenmore/Belvédère/Etchemin/Valleyfield) won its second straight game with a 7-4 triumph over Team Prince Edward Island (1-2, Crapaud) skipped by Tyler Smith.
The 18 Tim Hortons Brier 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 it will be further reduced to a Final Four and a Page playoff system.
The final goes Sunday, March 12.
The Tim Hortons Brier champion will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2023 BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship, April 1-9 in Ottawa.
The 2023 Tim Hortons Brier continues with draws Sunday with draws at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times ET).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.
TSN and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2023 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2023brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2023brier/nouvelles/?lang=fr