John Morris was on the losing side of a 7-6 extra-end loss to former teammate Kevin Martin in the Friday morning draw, but still moved into the playoffs at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.
Martin and his Edmonton team of Dave Nedohin, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert placed a draw in the eight-foot to secure the victory and lock up second place in the round-robin at 6-1.
Morris and his Vernon/Kelowna rink of Jim Cotter (skip’s stones), Tyrel Griffith, Rick Sawatsky, alternate Jason Gunnlaugson and coach Pat Ryan, took third place at 4-3.
“We’re feeling really good going into the playoffs,” Morris said. “I think if you would had asked us at the start of the year if we had to beat Kevin Martin and Brad Jacobs to win the trials, we would have been pretty happy with that, especially not having a berth here.”
The two teams met again in a semifinal Saturday, the winner moving on to face Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.’s Brad Jacobs in today’s noon (PT) final. The champion will represent Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Martin cracked a three-ender in the sixth end to take a 5-3 lead Friday. Morris blanked the next end, but Martin followed up with a steal to increase the deficit to three points. However, Morris blanked the ninth end and scored two points in the 10th to send the game into an extra end.
Jacobs could become the first team in Canadian curling trials history to run the table. The Ontario foursome finished the round-robin at 7-0 after picking up a 7-4 victory over John Epping of Toronto Thursday.
Meanwhile, Kevin Koe (2-5) of Calgary shut the door on the Olympic dreams of Mike McEwen (3-4) from Winnipeg. Koe drew to the button for one point in the last end to defeat McEwen 5-4.
Had McEwen won, it would have forced a tiebreaker with Morris.
In consolation play, Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg brushed back Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., 9-3. The teams entertained the crowd with a high-scoring, skins-style game that featured Stoughton briefly sporting a touque and Howard sliding to all the way down to the house, rock in hand, and placing it on the button before shaking hands. Both teams left the ice to a standing ovation.
In the women’s draw, Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont. grounded Rachel Homan 10-4 in semifinal action Friday night, advancing to face Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones in the championship-game Saturday.