Vernon skip Jim Cotter (middle) releases his rock to sweepers Kevin Folk (left) and Rick Sawatsky at last year’s B.C. Men's Curling Championship at the Vernon Curling Club.

Vernon skip Jim Cotter (middle) releases his rock to sweepers Kevin Folk (left) and Rick Sawatsky at last year’s B.C. Men's Curling Championship at the Vernon Curling Club.

Cotter secures new second

With Bob Ursel unable to play, Vernon skip Jim Cotter has recruited Tyrel Griffith to join his curling crew for the coming season.

Jim Cotter had a few curlers on speed dial last year to fill the third position after veteran Bob Ursel went down with a preseason knee injury.

There will be no super sub of the week this year as Cotter has picked up Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna, who will play second. Kevin Folk moves up to third and Rick Sawatzky throws lead rocks and sweeps until he drops.

Ursel, who had knee surgery, couldn’t commit to a heavy 2011-12 schedule so Cotter approached Griffith in late spring.

“He’s a great kid,” said Cotter, 36. “He’s got a great background and he’s a great player. Kevin will step up to third without any problem.”

Cotter, who won last year’s Canadian Direct Insurance provincials and went 4-7 at the Tim Hortons Brier in London, opens the cashspiel season with the Twin Anchors Curling Classic, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 in Vernon.

“The ice doesn’t go in until three days before so we’ll probably go to Kamloops next week and throw some rocks,” said Cotter, who spent the summer working on his house and camping with his wife and three kids.

“That’s what is so good about the Vernon cashspiel. It’s such a great warmup because everybody is in the same position so it really is a crapshoot.”

There will be 16 men’s teams in the Twin Anchors extravaganza with $27,000 up for grabs. The winners earn $7,500 and valuable World Curling Tour points. Cotter was a losing semifinalist last year.

Defending Twin Anchors champion Kevin Koe of Calgary, who won the 2010 Brier over Glenn Howard in an exciting extra-end finish, headlines the list of skips.

Koe and three other Canadian world champions will play in the TSN Curling Skins Game, Jan. 7-8 at Casino Rama in Rama, Ont. Current world champion Jeff Stoughton, along with Kevin Martin, and Howard will chase $75,000.

Koe was just a baby-faced 18-year-old from Yellowknife when he surprised the curling scene by topping the Vernon Cashspiel in the first year cars were not awarded to the champions.

At 36, he will try and claim the Twin Anchors title for a third straight year. Koe, who moved to Calgary last year from Grande Prairie, plays out of the Saville Sports Club in Edmonton. He brushed back 22-year-old Russian Andrey Drozdov 5-2 in last year’s final.

Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons will team up with Koe this season. Koe needed to find a new third when Blake MacDonald retired from the game.

Simmons skipped Saskatchewan at four straight Briers from 2005-08, and threw fourth stones for Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier. Simmons, 36, is a chiropractor in Moose Jaw.

Trevor Perepolkin is the other Vernon rink on the men’s side.

The four-time provincial junior champion, who hasn’t seriously competed for a few years, has put together a dynamic foursome for this season.

Playing third will be Ryan LeDrew, a recent Newfoundland transplant.

“He played one year of men’s with (Brad) Gushue and he has lots of experience,” said Perepolkin. “Jeff Richard folded his team so I will have Chris Anderson and Tyler Orme at front end.”

Orme was a member of one of Perepolkin’s B.C. championship rinks.

There will be 24 women’s rinks going after a purse of $35,000. First is worth $7,000 with the runners-up receiving $5,000.

Vancouver Olympic silver medalist Cheryl Bernard of Calgary iced Russia’s Liudmila Privivkova 4-2 in the 2010 final.

It was the third time in seven years Bernard has won the cashspiel. However, she has formed a new team and did not enter the Classic.

There are plenty of other stars in the field, including former world champion Kelley Law of New Westminster (2006 Classic winner), Kelowna’s Kelly Scott, Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary (‘08 Classic champ) and Marla Mallett of Langley.

Scott went 7-4 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last year, reaching the event with a 7-4 provincial-title win over Law. Scott won the ‘06 national crown.

With longtime third Jeanna Schraeder expecting her third child in November, Scott has added three-time B.C. junior queen Darlene Sivertson of Victoria.

Classic four-day passes, worth $35, and single-day passes, at $12, are on sale at the curling club.