New shoes to break in. New broom rules to figure out.
Oh and 10 games in three days, including six must-wins to avoid elimination.
Call it a mini training camp for the John Morris curling rink.
The team, which includes Vernon’s Jim Cotter throwing skip stones, Morris at third, and the Kelowna front end of Rick Sawatsky and Tyrel Griffith, fell 6-3 to two-time world champion Niklas Edin of Karlsbad, Sweden in Sunday’s final of the World Curling Tour’s Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in Oakville.
Morris and company started 1-2, then won six straight games in 48 hours to reach Sunday’s final.
“I don’t think we could have played one more game,” laughed Cotter from the Calgary Airport Monday on the way home from Ontario.
“We got on a good roll there and had to play a lot of games. Our (playoff) qualifying game was Saturday at 10 p.m. and we didn’t get off the ice until 1 a.m., then were back at it Sunday. We were all pretty tired.”
Morris, playing in his first event back with Cotter’s crew since losing the Brier final in Kamloops in 2014, grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second with a deuce.
Edin, who won world titles in 2013 and 2015, and bronze at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, matched with a pair of his own in the third to retake the lead and stole one in the fourth to make it 4-2 when Cotter’s final throw was light and sweepers Sawatsky and Griffth were unable to drag it in for shot stone.
Cotter was forced to take a single in five and, after a blank in the sixth, Edin all but put the game away in the seventh (eight-end games).
Edin messed up on his first skip stone to open the door for another blank, but Cotter’s hit and roll attempt possibly picked and only nudged Edin’s shot stone to give Edin an easy open draw into the paint for another deuce and a 6-3 lead.
The event was the first of the season for the Morris rink, and their first time on ice as a team.
The squad dropped a 5-3 decision to Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont. in its first match before rebounding to blank Scott Bailey of Brampton, Ont. 8-0.
A 7-6 setback to William Lyburn of Winnipeg dropped Morris to the C event, where they opened with a 7-1 win over Mark Kean of Stoney Creek, Ont.
They then beat Matt Dunstone of Winnipeg 7-6 and rolled over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock to reach an event qualifier with Lyburn. Morris and company got revenge, qualifying for the playoffs with a 6-4 victory.
Morris defeated Mark Nichols of St. John’s 7-4 in the quarterfinal and reached the championship match with an 8-3 romp over Edmonton’s Brandon Bottcher.
“It took us a couple of games to get back into the swing of things with the guys,” said Cotter. “We had new shoes we were breaking in and we were trying to figure out the new broom rules which led to some confusion. But, yeah, our past history together came into play but it took a couple of games to get going.”
The loss in the final was worth $4,000 for the Morris rink. Cotter reached the semifinals of the Stu Sells in 2015.
Next up for the team is the Prestige Hotels and Resorts Curling Classic Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Vernon Club. Morris was a member of Pat Simmons’ winning team at the 2015 Classic.