Curler John Morris marvellous in Roar of the Rings leadup

Tyrell Griffith, left, and Jim Cotter follow a Rick Sawatzky rock with skip John Morris calling the shots in Kitchener, Ont. - CCA/Sharp Eye Photography
Tyrell Griffith, left, and Jim Cotter follow a Rick Sawatzky rock with skip John Morris calling the shots in Kitchener, Ont.
— image credit: CCA/Sharp Eye Photography

Morning Star Staff/Canadian Curling Association

Jim Cotter went for a jog to jumpstart his Thursday morning in Kitchener, Ont.

Vernon’s curling superstar just chilled at his hotel the rest of the day waiting for Thursday night’s A event final against Brad Gushue at the Memorial Auditorium.

At stake Thursday night was a berth in Saturday afternoon’s Page playoff A-B game, which will have a spot in the 2013 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials, presented by Monsanto, on the line. The Roar of the Rings goes Dec. 1-8 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg to decide Canada’s men’s and women’s teams for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Cotter, 39, who has former world champion John Morris at skip, and a front end of Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatzky, is throwing final rocks for his new-look rink. Morris replaced Jason (Gunner) Gunnlaugson, who is busy in a new career but seriving as the team’s fifth when available.

The Vernon-Kelowna rink stopped Greg Balsdon of Elgin, Ont. 10-6 Wednesday night, putting the game away with a deuce in the sixth end, a steal of one in the seventh and two more in the eighth.

“We gave up a three-ball but we stuck to the program and we all played well and chipped away for the win,” Cotter told The Morning Star. “We’re all healthy and the chemistry’s great. It has been great from the get-go and we’ve got a little stronger at each of the five or six events we’ve played.

“We’ve known John for a long time and hung out with him and he’s a competitor, obviously. He wouldn’t be a world junior champion, world men’s champion and Olympic gold-medalist if he wasn’t. He pushes us further.”

Morris, a 34-year-old Calgary firefighter who won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver throwing third rocks for Kevin Martin, opened the Capital One extravaganza Tuesday night with a 10-2 win over Rob Rumfeldt of Guelph, Ont.

Morris and company took one in the first end, and then piled on with a stolen single in the second and two more in the third and never looked back to move on in the A Event of the triple-knockout tournament.

It was a good way to get rid of the opening-day jitters, Morris suggested. His rink is coached by Pat Ryan of Kelowna.

“Especially when you don’t play the first draw, right?” said  Morris, whose rink is No. 4 seed in the 12-team men’s event.

“And it’s well-known that Sheet E is tough. It’s definitely playing with some more curl in interesting spots compared to the pother sheets. So we’re glad we got a win on that sheet, and now we can focus on whatever sheet we’re on next. We can’t take anything lightly; every game you get here is going to be against some tough opponents.”

Gushue, meanwhile, scored four in the second end, stole three in the fifth end and two more in the sixth en route to a sloppy 10-4 win over Jake Higgs of Glencoe, Ont.

Gushue has third Brett Gallant, second Adam Casey, lead Geoff Walker and coach Peter Gallant backing him.

“It was a comedy of errors by both teams,” Gushue, the 2006 Olympic gold-medallist in Turin, Italy, told Al Cameron of the Canadian Curling News.

“Fortunately we made them try some pressure shots, and they didn’t pull through. But it was not a well-curled game by either team.”

In a rematch of the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials final, Kelly Scott, of Kelowna scored one in the 10th end to edge Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink 6-5 in Draw 4 action Wednesday.

Both teams battled for control on swingy ice with Scott stealing one in the sixth in front of guards.



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