Vernon skip Jim Cotter yells instructions at his sweepers during the finals of The Rogers Masters in Brantford

Vernon skip Jim Cotter yells instructions at his sweepers during the finals of The Rogers Masters in Brantford

Cotter crew collects $11K payday

Jim Cotter's Vernon-Kelowna rink dials up $11,000 payday with runner-up showing at Rogers Masters of Curling Grand Slam in Brantford, Ont.

Jim Cotter had a few quick post-game beverages with the boys and then caught a ride to the airport for the flight home to Vernon.

Others might have had a night on the town after winning $11,000, but it’s a levelheaded approach that helped his rink earn the money to begin with.

Cotter’s Vernon-Kelowna foursome of third Jason (Gunner) Gunnlaugson, second Ty Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky, turned in a runner-up performance in an ultra-talented field at the $100,000 Rogers Masters of Curling Grand Slam, falling 7-5 to Calgary’s Kevin Koe Sunday in Brantford, Ont.

“It was huge for us, especially with our start there,” said Cotter, a 38-year-old computer programmer. “To start 0-2 and get on a roll showed a lot of character for our team.

“We’re just thrilled with the direction the team is heading. We all get along so well and take a similar approach to the game and try to keep that even-keel approach, and it seems to work well for us.”

Cotter struck first in the final, counting a deuce in the opening end, but Koe responded with his own deuce and a force in the third end.

After a blank in the fourth end, a Cotter misstep opened the door to a Koe three-ender and a 5-3 lead. Koe stole the next end, but Cotter responded with his second pair of the match to cut the lead to 6-5.

In the final end, Cotter’s last-ditch come-around touched the four-foot, but Koe drew towards the button for the win.

“They’re playing at an extremely high level right now,” said Gunnalaugson, of Koe’s rink. “You know going in you’re going to have to be at your best to have a chance. We came out sharp but in the second four ends we didn’t execute like we wanted.”

Up next for Cotter’s crew is the Canadian Open of Curling, featuring yet another $100,000 purse, Dec. 12-16, at Prospera Place in Kelowna.

Cotter is looking forward to not having to reset his watch for this one.

“We’re used to traveling across the country, but it’s expensive on a tight budget for us,” he said. “And to get the chance to play in front of family and friends is always fun.”

Gunnlaugson, who works with father-in-law and former world champion Garry VanDenBerghe at Knifeless Tech Systems, says the event is a huge opportunity for Okanagan curling fans.

“You get to see the absolute best people playing this sport in your backyard.”

Koe pocketed $20,000 Sunday to pad their World Curling Tour money list lead with more than $84,000.

Cotter has reached the playoffs in four of six World tour events so far this season. They were semifinalists last week in Swan River, Man.

“Our goal was to keep on improving and moving in the direction we want to be…and that trip out east was a big step for our team,” said Sawatsky.

“It seemed like all our opponents were getting all the breaks (in the first two games), and then we got a break or two and then all four guys started rolling. It’s easy when you’re winning, but you measure a team when they’re not doing so well.”