Cotter starts Canadian Open of Curling with split

Jim Cotter (middle) delivers a rock for sweepers Ty Griffith (left) and Rick Sawatsky in their first game against Calgary’s Kevin Koe in the Canadian Open of Curling Wednesday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna. Cotter brushed back Koe 6-5 in an extra end to open the spiel Wednesday night. - Douglas Farrow/Black Press
Jim Cotter (middle) delivers a rock for sweepers Ty Griffith (left) and Rick Sawatsky in their first game against Calgary’s Kevin Koe in the Canadian Open of Curling Wednesday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna. Cotter brushed back Koe 6-5 in an extra end to open the spiel Wednesday night.
— image credit: Douglas Farrow/Black Press

Vernon’s Jim Cotter is too much of a nice guy to be motivated by revenge, but his opening win at the Canadian Open of Curling must have felt pretty sweet.

Less than a month after falling to Kevin Koe in the final of the Rogers Masters, Cotter iced the Calgary skip 6-5 in an extra end to start the $100,000 Grand Slam event Wednesday night at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

Cotter fell 5-4 to Brad Gushue of St. John’s Thursday morning.

“It was great to get out of the gate with a win,” said Cotter, a computer programmer.

“Our last event (Masters), we started 0-2 so it was nice to get that win.”

Cotter, curling with Winnipeg transplant Jason (Gunner) Gunnlaugson at third, and the front end of Ty Griffith and Rick Sawatsky, trailed 3-1 after four ends against Gushue, but after swapping singles in five and six, he equalized with a deuce in seven.

"We weren't as sharp today," said Cotter. "We struggled with the rocks a bit. When you're playing the best in the world, anything can happen."

The Vernon skip was up 3-2 after five ends against Koe, who grabbed a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Cotter retook the lead with two of his own in the seventh.

Regarding Koe, Cotter said: “They’re probably the hottest team in Canada, if not the world, right now.”

Koe, who leads the World Curling Tour men’s moneylist at $85,200, tied it 5-5 in the eighth to force the extra end.

Cotter said attendance at Grand Slam events isn’t usually all that noteworthy, but he was impressed with the turnout Wednesday.

“For an opening night, it was probably one of the biggest crowds we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

“Even some of the other teams were talking about it. It’s nice to be playing local and seeing faces in the crowd.”

In other Day 1 action, Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont. grounded Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 6-2 in just six ends.

Jeff Stoughton needed just seven ends to halt William Lyburn 7-2 in an all-Winnipeg battle. Stoughton blew open a tight 2-1 game in the fifth end by scoring four.

John Morris, who is skipping Kevin Martin’s Edmonton rink with Martin sidelined after hernia surgery, easily handled Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz 9-1 in six ends, while Gushue scored a 7-4 victory over Toronto’s John Epping.

Cotter battled Jake Higgs of Harriston, Ont. Thursday night. The 18-team round-robin spiel continues today, with Cotter going up against Regina’s Steve Laycock at 4 p.m., followed by Epping at 8 p.m.

Playoffs go Saturday with quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m., and semis at 4:30. The championship game is slated for 10 a.m. Sunday.

Meanwhile, in Baron Insurance Super League action Wednesday night, Darrell (Heavy D) Houston’s Nufloors pulled a huge 6-5 comeback win over Sherry Heath’s De Vine Vintners at the Vernon Curling Club.

With Sandra Jenkins tossing skip’s stones and Susan Hamilton calling the shots, the 1-10 Vintners were all over Nufloors early, building a 4-0 lead. Houston (6-5) must have been tempted to pull the plug, but stuck with it and chipped away at the lead with singles in four and five, a deuce in six and single in seven.

Jenkins made a nice draw in eight to force an extra end, where Houston responded with a well-swept run-back for the win.

Robbi Kuhn’s North Enderby Timber cracked a pair of triples en route to an 8-3 win over Cotter’s shorthanded Woodland Equipment.

Tied 3-3 after five ends, Kuhn (6-5) collected her second three-ender in six, then went with an excellent guard game to swipe a pair of points in seven.

Woodland (6-4) recorded singles in one, four and five.

Mark Longworth’s Sladen Moore didn’t count big, but instead scored often in a 7-6 extra ends win over Dave Merklinger’s Canwest Propane.

Canwest skip Darren Heath missed a hit for five in the second end, settling for a triple. Longworth (5-6) rallied with a single in three and steal of two in four, but Canwest restored its lead on a Heath draw for a deuce in five.

Back-to-back singles put the Sladen Moore rink  ahead going into the final end, where Heath drew the button for the force. Longworth kept a clean sheet in nine, drawing four-foot for the win.

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