John Morris has booked his ticket to Winnipeg.
With a 5-4 win over Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Saturday afternoon in Kitchener, Ont., Morris’s Vernon-Kelowna rink of Jim Cotter, Tyrel Griffith, Rick Sawatsky and coach Pat Ryan secured its spot in the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials, Dec. 1-8 at the MTS Centre.
The event will decide Canada’s teams for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
This is Morris’s third trip to the Trials, and he’ll be going head-to-head with his former skip and 2010 Olympic gold-medal teammate, Kevin Martin, in the final round-robin draw on Dec. 6.
“Is he in that bonspiel?” joked Morris after his win in Page playoff A-B final of the Capital One Road to the Roar Pre-Trials.
“I’ve been in two Trials. I think it’s even more pressure than the Olympics. I’m sure we’ll have a great match against Kev, we’ll be gunning for each other. That was a tough break at the end of last year, but it had to happen. I’m sure we’re going to have a barn burner, and I look forward to it.”
In a game that saw its share of misses in among the highlight-reel shots, Morris worked the scoreboard to have hammer coming home, and Cotter, who throws final stones, made the cold draw to the eight-foot for the win.
Morris praised the play of his team, especially Cotter, who struggled at the beginning of the game.
“He’s our stable force,” Morris said. “He’s our shotmaker. We’ve just got to be sure to give him the shots to make. He’s a true leader on this team too.”
Added Cotter: “That was one of our primary goals this season, to get off to Winnipeg.
“Each event we go into we seem to be getting better and better and we’re getting to know each other a little better.”
Cotter said the team held a two-day mini-camp in Calgary before pre-Trials to refine their deliveries and solidify their game-plan. They have similar preparations planned for the Trials, and they will also compete in the $100,000 Canadian Open, which starts today in Medicine Hat.
They open play Thursday against Brandon’s Rob Fowler.
The Jacobs rink, the reigning men’s Canadian champs, will also get another chance to wear the Maple Leaf on the world stage.
The Sault Ste. Marie crew clinched the final berth into the Roar of the Rings with a 7-5 win over 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L. Sunday night.
Other entries in the eight-team Trials include Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton and Mike McEwen, 2011 world champ Kevin Koe of Edmonton, 2012 world champ Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont. and John Epping of Toronto.
Meanwhile, Alberta rinks skipped by Renée Sonnenberg and Val Sweeting earned the two berths in the women’s pre-Trial spiel.
Sonnenberg thumped Kelowna’s Kelly Scott 12-4 in the Page playoff A-B game Saturday night.
Sweeting claimed the other qualifier by stopping Scott 6-4 Sunday.