SUMMERSIDE – Brendan Bottcher and his 2017 Alberta Tankard champions are heading to the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings for a chance of going to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Bottcher and his team of lead Karrick Martin, second stone Brad Thiessen and third stone Darren Moulding were the only team to defeat the Glenn Howard foursome from Etobicoke, Ont. – and they did it twice.
The win that counted the most, though was a 9-5 pressure-cooker victory in Sunday night’s 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Olympic Pre-Trials B section playoff final at Eastlink Arena.
Howard got a single with hammer in the first end, but Bottcher took control with a third end steal of one for a 2-1 lead.
Howard took the lead 5-4 with a single steal in the eighth, but a cool-hand Bottcher, a 25 year-old project engineer, regained the lead in the ninth as Moulding squeezed by a guard to pick out Team Howard’s counter. Suddenly, a potential Howard steal turned into a deuce.
After some issues with draw weight early in the 10th end, Team Bottcher stones started to pile up and there were four counting when Howard settled into the hack for his first stone of the end. He tried to squeeze through a hole, but nicked a stone at the top of the house and ended in front of a Bottcher stone who was still counting four. Bottcher guarded Howard’s stone and Howard tried to run it back but it over-curled, and Bottcher is joining John Morris’s Vernon, B.C., rink as the Road to Roar’s qualifiers for the Roar of the Rings in Ottawa from Dec. 2 to 10.
Bottcher, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was one of four teams tied for second at 3-3 (won-lost) after round robin in Pool B in Summerside, but was advanced to second on the tiebreaking formula and went up against Howard, first in Pool A at 6-0, in the A section semifinal Saturday. Bottcher won 6-2.
Botcher lost the A final to Morris Sunday morning. He remained alive, though, advancing to the B final as the first- and second-place teams in each pool had double life in the playoff round.
Howard won his way back for a rematch with a 7-6 extra end victory Sunday afternoon over Greg Balsdon from Woodstock, Ont.