Morning Star Staff
Vernon’s Jim Cotter remains in the hunt for the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship that barely eluded him a year ago.
Cotter, the 2014 Brier runner-up, improved to 3-2 Tuesday morning in Calgary with an 8-3 win over Mark Kean of Ontario, salting away the match by scoring four in the ninth end.
“We seem to play a lot of tight games so we’re used to that,” said Cotter, whose team won every game by a single point in the provincials at the Vernon Curling Club last month.
“We don’t seem to blow anybody away, we don’t try to. It’s just game management and end management and just try to be tied up coming home with (hammer), sort of thing.”
Cotter took on Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (2-3) Tuesday afternoon.
Cotter, backed by third Ryan Kuhn, second Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna and lead Rick Sawatzky, was in a four-way tie for third place with Alberta’s Kevin Koe, Newfoundland/Labrador’s Brad Gushue and Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers following the morning draw Tuesday.
Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs, the 2013 Brier champ and 2014 Olympic gold medalist, was 5-0 while Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock was 4-1.
Cotter opened the Brier Saturday by edging Calgary’s Koe 8-7 in an extra end in a rematch with the winning skip from last year’s Brier final in Cotter’s hometown of Kamloops.
For several agonizing seconds, Cotter and his B.C. team watched helplessly as their potential game-winning rock slid ever so closely to the edge of the house before finally stopping to give them the win.
“Hang on, hang on,” was Cotter’s recollections of his yelling as the stone slid across the Scotiabank Saddledome ice in Calgary. “I thought it was going out, thought we were going to 12 (ends).”
Koe had hidden a counter and forced the Vernon skip to try a difficult angle double-raise hit and stay as the pro-Alberta crowd tried to unsettle him by chanting “Cotter, Cotter” as he was in the hack.
“That’s curling and that’s excitement,” said Cotter, who wasn’t bothered by the crowd. “It’s Calgary and they’re cheering for their hometown boys.”
The Cotter rink then dropped their next two games Sunday, 7-5 to Jacobs and 6-5 to Brier qualifier winner Adam Casey of PEI.
Cotter got back into the win column in his lone game Monday, stealing two in 10 to double Gushue, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, 6-3.
The winner of the 2015 Tim Hortons Brier will represent Canada at the Ford World Men’s Championship, March 28-April 5 in Halifax, in addition to qualifying for the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup in Grande Prairie, Alta., the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup in Las Vegas and the 2016 Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa.