Vernon’s Jim Cotter began the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ont. Saturday with a 6-4 win over the Northwest Territories. (Black Press file photo)

Vernon rink begins Brier with win

Jim Cotter defeats Northwest Territories 6-4

The B.C. champs have opened the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championships in Kingston, Ont. with a victory.

Vernon’s Jim Cotter, backed by third Steve Laycock of Saskatoon, second Andrew Nerpin of Kelowna and lead Rick Sawatsky of Vernon began the tournament Saturday with a 6-4 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.

Cotter scored a deuce with the hammer in the opening end, but Koe came back to tie it 2-2 with a steal of one in the fourth.

The Vernon rink took a two-point lead into the fifth-end break by scoring a double for a 4-2 edge, only to see Koe tie it with a deuce of his own in the sixth end.

READ MORE: Vernon rink rolling into Brier

With final rock, Cotter picked up only a single point in the eighth for a 5-4 lead. Koe blanked the ninth and Cotter was able to secure the win with a steal of a single point in the final end.

Cotter takes on John Epping of Ontario Sunday at 11 a.m. Pacific. Epping won his opener, defeating defending champ Kevin Koe of Calgary and his Team Canada rink 5-3.

James Grattan of New Brunswick and Mike McEwen’s Winnipeg Wild Card rink also won their first games to sit 1-0 with BC and Ontario in Pool A.

WORLD WHEELCHAIR CHAMPIONSHIPS

Spallumcheen’s Ina Forrest and Team Canada began the 2020 World Championships in Switzerland with a split of their first two games.

Canada rallied from a 5-0 deficit in its opener Saturday with seven unanswered points for a 7-5 win over Slovakia before falling 8-1 to Russia Sunday morning.

Canada plays Korea Sunday evening.

READ MORE: Spallumcheen wheelchair curler boosts Canada to world finals

Forrest is vice-skip (third) for Canada which includes Mark Ideson of London, Ont. (throwing lead stones), Jon Thurston of Dunsford, Ont. (throwing fourth stones) and Dennis Thiessen of Sanford, Man. The team alternate is Collinda Joseph of Stittsville, Ont.

Canada will play an 11-game round-robin, with the top six teams from the 12-team field making the playoffs. The first- and second-place teams will go straight to the semifinals, while No. 6 plays No. 3, and No. 5 plays No. 4 in the qualification round.

The qualification round and semifinals are on Friday, March 6, with the bronze- and gold-medal games on Saturday, March 7.

Team Canada finished with a 5-6 record at last year’s World Championship in Stirling, Scotland — part of a four-way tie for seventh place. But tiebreaking formulas dropped Canada to 10th place and relegated to the B Pool for the 2019-20 season.

In December, Ideson skipped Canada to a gold medal at the world B Pool qualifying event in Finland, which clinched a berth into the 2020 World Championship in Switzerland.

Ideson, Forrest and Thiessen were all members of the Canadian team that won bronze at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. Additionally, they were all members of the last Canadian team to reach the podium at the World Wheelchair Championship; they played for the Jim Armstrong-skipped team that won gold in 2013 at Sochi, Russia.



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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Spallumcheen’s Ina Forrest (right) leads teammates Dennis Thiessen and Jon Thurston onto the ice at the World Wheelchair Curling Championships in Wetzikon, Switzerland. (worldcurling.org)

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