Morning Star Staff
Team Morris is rolling along at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championships at the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops.
The Vernon/Kelowna squad, which includes Vernon’s Jim Cotter throwing fourth stones, skip John Morris throwing third rocks and the front end of lead Rick Sawatsky of Vernon and Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna, improved to 6-1 Tuesday afternoon with a 9-3, eight-end win over James Grattan of New Brunswick (1-5).
The B.C. champs snapped a 3-3 tie by scoring three in the sixth end, then won it with a steal of three more in the eighth.
Alberta’s Kevin Koe improved to 5-1 with a win Tuesday afternoon, and Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock was 4-1.
Laycock met Koe Tuesday night.
Morris moved into sole possession of top spot Tuesday morning, improving to 5-1 with a 7-2 victory over Jamie Koe of the Territories.
The Morris foursome earned handshakes after scoring four in the eighth end on a great final shot by Cotter.
Team Morris opened the Brier Saturday, stealing one in the 10th to beat Kevin Koe 7-6.
Morris made it two straight on opening day by dumping Jeff Currie of Northern Ontario 8-2 in eight ends.
Sunday saw the hometown favourites fall from the undefeated ranks by giving up four in the first end in a 7-4 loss to Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard.
In their late game Sunday, the Morris rink gave up another four-ender, this time to Jamie Murphy of Nova Scotia. But a spectacular final angle shot by Cotter with the hammer in 10 scored three and gave B.C. an 8-6 decision, bringing the partisan crowd to its feet.
“We knew the shot,” said Cotter, born and raised in Kamloops, and playing in his hometown in front of lots of family and friends. “We knew that out-turn real good. Just come out, throw it clean, give it to the boys and they swept it great. We made it.”
Added Morris: “It was great to hear the local fans come to life at the end there and it was great for Jimmy to feel that roar.”
B.C. carried the momentum into their only game Monday, a 10-4 victory over Eddie MacKenzie of PEI. Morris scored deuces in the fourth, sixth and eighth ends, then drew handshakes from the Maritimes rink with a steal of three in the ninth.
Morris plays today against Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador at 8 a.m., and Greg Balsdon of Ontario at 1:30 p.m., then wraps up the round-robin Thursday against Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton at 8:30 a.m., and Laycock at 6:30 p.m.
The playoffs begin Friday with the final set for 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Cotter, meanwhile, will head back to Kamloops in April for an important personal matter.
He will be inducted to the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame (KSHF) on April 12 in the Grand Hall at Thompson Rivers University.
Cotter becomes the first of four individuals announced to the class of 2014. One team will also be named to the class.
Cotter won three B.C. High School curling titles and won the first of two B.C. junior men’s championships at the age of 16.
His rinks made three other appearances in the B.C. junior finals, with runner-up showings in 1991 and 1992 before winning in his final year of junior, in 1995.
—with files from Kamloops This Week