Vernon’s Jim Cotter delivers a stone at the Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Parksville.

Vernon’s Jim Cotter delivers a stone at the Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Parksville.

Cotter rallies to retain B.C. crown

Jim Cotter of Vernon ices Brent Pierce of New Westminster to retain B.C. Men’s Curling Championship Sunday in Parksville.

Jim Cotter’s Vernon-Kelowna rink is once again the best in B.C.

Cotter, supported by third Kevin Folk and front enders Ty Griffith and Rick Sawatsky, brushed back New Westminster’s Brent Pierce 7-5 to defend their Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championship Sunday in Parksville.

They will represent the province at the Tim Hortons Brier, March 3-11, in Saskatoon.

“It’s a phenomenal curling community, so we’re totally excited,” said Cotter. “The crowds should be great.”

After falling 9-2 to Pierce in the 1 versus 2 page playoff quarterfinals Saturday afternoon, Cotter rebounded in their Sunday rematch, recording a deuce in nine and single steal in 10.

“We haven’t been very good in 1-2 games, but we don’t let that bother us,” said Cotter, who needed an extra end to shade New Westminster’s Chris Baier 7-6 in the semifinals.

“We forgot about it pretty quickly and just move on. The good thing about that is if you lose you still have another shot.”

Added Folk: “We have excellent chemistry. We didn’t get too high or too low, and when we had an off game we were able to regroup when we had to. The team members have been really good at that all season.”

This will be the third Brier appearance for Cotter, Folk and Sawatsky (they also competed last year in London, Ont, and in 2008 in Winnipeg, with Bob Ursel as skip), and the debut for Griffith.

Cotter is looking to improve on last year’s 4-7 record.

“We definitely learned a lot from last year and we’ll make sure we’re well prepared,” he said.

“They keep you pretty busy with the autograph sessions and banquets. Once you get there, it (schedule) fills up pretty quickly. The key is to be well rested.”

For Folk and his father/coach, Rick, the Brier will be a homecoming as they are originally from Saskatoon. Rick is a two-time world champion (1980 and ‘94).

Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg will be unable to defend his 2011 Brier crown as Brandon’s Rob Fowler won the Manitoba playdown. 2011 runner-up Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., who fell 8-6 to Stoughton in last year’s final, advanced.

Vernon’s Darren Heath (third Dave Belway, second Darin Laface and lead Darrell Houston) missed the playoffs after finishing the preliminary round at 2-3.