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Vernon curler helps Canada clinch Continental playoff spot in Kelowna

Jim Cotter is the alternate for Team Canada; saw first action Wednesday in 8-1 win over Chinese Taipei
Vernon’s Jim Cotter got to wear the Maple Leaf for the first time in his curling career, playing for Brad Gushue and Team Canada at the Pan Continental Curling Championships at the Kelowna Curling Club Wednesday, Nov. 1. (Black Press file photo)

Ten times he’s had the opportunity to try and represent Canada at the World Men’s Curling Championships.

The closest he came was falling in the Tim Hortons Brier final in 2014 in his hometown of Kamloops.

But on Wednesday morning, Nov. 1, Jim Cotter of Vernon finally got to play for his country.

Cotter has been picked up as an alternate by reigning Brier champ Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador to play at the Pan Continental Curling Championships being held down Highway 97 at the Kelowna Curling Club. Gushue inserted Cotter into the morning draw game against Chinese Taipei – an 8-1 Canada victory.

Leading 6-1 at the fifth-end break, Canada was able to put Cotter into the lineup for the first time, and he showed the sweeping prowess he’s picked up playing a mixed-doubles heavy schedule with his daughter Jaelyn.

“It felt good,” said Cotter, the 10-time B.C. men’s champ, with a smile to Curling Canada after the match. “I want to thank the guys for the opportunity to come to this event and tossing me in there — it really means a lot.

“I’ve been playing my whole life to wear one of these (Canadian uniform); it’s been pretty fun. Had some good laughs and they’ve made me feel like I fit right in. I’ve known these guys for a long time, so I knew what I was getting into. They’ve made me feel welcome all the way.”

Said Gushe of Cotter: “I’ve played lots of games against him and you can make a very good argument that he’s one of the best players never to represent Canada before this opportunity. So to get him in there was nice. Hopefully we get another chance; I’d certainly be happy to do that.”

With the win, Gushue and teammates vice-skip Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Cotter, team coach Caleb Flaxey and national coach Jeff Stoughton improved to 4-1, and clinched a semifinal berth Friday morning.

The other mission in Kelowna has also been accomplished — Canada has clinched its spot in the 2024 LGT World Men’s Championship, March 30-April 7 in Shaffhausen, Switzerland.

“That’s good news for us, but there’s still lots of work to do,” said Gushue. “We want to win our last two games to probably guarantee the hammer (for the semifinal). I don’t think it would guarantee it through the playoffs, but certainly in the semifinal it should give us that, which is a big bonus.”

It’s a traditional semifinal format with first place in the round robin playing fourth place while second plays third Friday at 9 a.m. (all times Pacific). The winners advance to the gold-medal game Saturday at 3 p.m., while the losers play for bronze Friday at 7 p.m.

The Canadians complete their Wednesday assignments at 7 p.m. (all times Pacific) against Australia’s Team Jay Merchant (1-4).

In other games Wednesday morning, South Korea’s Team Jongduk Park (5-0) also clinched a playoff spot with an 8-3 triumph over Team Andrew Stopera of the U.S. (3-2); Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa (4-1) was a 6-4 winner over New Zealand’s Team Anton Hood (3-2); and Australia hit the win column with a 9-4 win over Guyana’s Team Rayad Husain (0-5).

Canada’s Team Kerri Einarson (3-2) is back on the ice Wednesday in the women’s competition.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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