LONDON – It may have been the most difficult first four games any team in Brier history has had to face.
In the event’s first 48 hours, Jim Cotter and his rink representing Vernon and Kelowna, played teams skipped by Jeff Stoughton, Glenn Howard, Brad Gushue and Kevin Martin – all either former world or Olympic curling champions.
After running that daunting gauntlet, Cotter emerged 1-3, notching a narrow win over Gushue while losing to the others. But he knew that although he was near the bottom of the standings, the giants of the Tim Hortons Brier were now behind him, so there was a chance to get back in the mix and make a push for the playoffs.
He needed to start a winning streak Monday night against Brad Jacobs’ crew from Northern Ontario – bronze medalists at last year’s Brier. But after a 7-5 loss, the Cotter foursome found themselves deflated, realizing that any chance at a playoff berth will require a six-game winning streak over the last three days of the competition.
“Absolutely we can do it,” said Cotter, who is backed by third Ken Maskiewich, second Kevin Folk and lead Rick Sawatsky. “You gotta have faith this team can do it. But we’ve got to execute. All four of us have got to bring our ‘A’ game. Each one of us has got to dig deep and pick it up.”
The game against Northern Ontario was a see-saw affair that turned in the ninth end. With Cotter trailing 6-5 but holding the hammer, his second-last rock picked, setting up a steal for Jacobs, who followed that with a strong double takeout in the 10th end to close out the game.
“Any time you get a pick late in the game it’s never going to help,” said Cotter, a 36-year-old computer programmer. “But we were a little sloppy that game, for sure. It seemed like when we would get a little bit of control we just let it slip away. I’m not sure if the (difficult) schedule has a bearing on it or not, but anytime you’re constantly losing it’s just one of those things. We’re just looking for some positive momentum.”
The championship began for the B.C. team with a 10-4 loss to Manitoba in seven ends Saturday afternoon. That was followed by another seven-end loss, 8-2 to Alberta Sunday morning. Then came the team’s highlight game Sunday night – a 6-5 win over Gushue of Newfoundland.
“Anytime you can get rid of the goose egg, it definitely was a good feeling,” said Cotter. “That was one where we got up early and we battled back and they kind of took it away but we finished strong and got it back so it definitely was a big relief.”
Cotter then lost the following game Monday morning, 7-5 to Howard’s Ontario rink. Cotter faced Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock Tuesday afternoon.
EXTRA ENDS: Martin, who ended a 30-game unbeaten run with a loss to Gushue Monday night, rallied to beat Nova Scotia’s Shawn Adams 9-7 Tuesday morning to stay in sight of front-runner Stoughton, who defeated the Territories’ Jamie Koe 10-4 Tuesday morning…Cotter battled James Grattan of New Brunswick Tuesday night and takes on Quebec (Francois Gagne) and Koe in today’s draws…Vernon’s Amy Edwards fell 7-5 to Corryn Brown of Kamloops in the semifinals of the Tim Horton’s B.C. Juvenile Women’s Curling Championships Saturday at the Cowichan Rocks Curling Centre in Lake Cowichan. Edwards, backed by third Shayna Doll and front-enders Kylie Tokairin and Sydney Hofer, held a two-point lead after four ends, but Brown, the eventual champion, responded with four points in the fifth to seal the win…Edwards, who went 2-1 to finish second in round-robin play, tied Gabrielle Plonka of Coquitlam 6-6 in the bronze-medal game.