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Bottcher outdraws Gushue to grab playoff berth at KIOTI National

PICTOU COUNTY, N.S. — It’s always a main event, heavyweight tilt when Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher and Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., face off in the Grand Slam of Curling.

The latest chapter Thursday evening in the KIOTI National at the Pictou County Wellness Centre was no exception.

Not only did it come down to the final shot of the game with the score tied, but it also required a measure to determine the winner as each team sat a rock parked on the button.

Bottcher was just a hair closer to the pinhole to emerge victorious 3-2 and clinch a playoff spot with a 3-0 record.

“I thought it was them actually when I took a quick peak,” admitted Team Bottcher third Marc Kennedy, who was the one who had to make the measurement. “I wasn’t too nervous. I think Bottch gave it a hell of an effort and the fact it came down to a measurement, which it was a great shot, just lucky have it by enough.”

The loss dropped Gushue into the danger zone at 1-2. Team Gushue not only have to win their remaining round-robin game Friday morning against Team Aaron Sluchinski but also need to improve their placement in the draw-to-the-button shootout standings in order to make the cut.

Bottcher, who also earned wins over Team John Shuster and Team Matt Dunstone, is ranked No. 1 in the world and there’s no rest for the best as his crew will wrap up preliminary play against Team Ross Whyte in the same draw.

“It wasn’t an easy pool for us. We had to play two of the top teams in Canada and the best team in the U.S.,” Kennedy said. “To be 3-0 is a big accomplishment for us. It takes a little pressure off the morning game but it’s always good to beat those guys. Those guys are tough, so a big win and looking forward to the weekend.”

Bottcher tends to play a patient game, i.e. no surprise there were blanks to start, but no two were the same with Bottcher needing to make a tricky peel through a port to put doughnuts on the board in the second in particular.

It paid off though as Bottcher saw his opportunity in the fourth end pulling off an insane in-off to make a double takeout and score two points to get on the board.

That finally handed the hammer to Gushue for the fifth end. The 14-time Grand Slam title winner had one point in his pocket covering the button but couldn’t get his shooter to cozy in close enough to outcount Bottcher’s pair around the lid and had to settle for a single.

After another blank in the sixth, Gushue sat shot rock under deep cover in the seventh and Bottcher opted to throw his last away to concede the tying point but retain the hammer for the final frame.

That set the stage for the nail-biting decision as Bottcher faced two counters and had to draw for a bigger piece of the button.

“Oh man, Brendan played great,” Kennedy said. “Even the blanks, those were pretty good ends and a lot of good shots in the last few to get the blanks. Brendan made a couple of beauties out there and his draw to win is probably even bigger than the in-off. He’s playing great, we’re kind of riding his momentum and happy he’s on our team.”

Elsewhere, Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller also clinched a playoff spot at 3-0 after scoring three points in the eighth end to edge Canada’s Team Kevin Koe 7-6.

Koe’s club from Calgary dropped to a 1-2 record.

Team Korey Dropkin of the United States improved to a 2-1 record by edging Canada’s Team Reid Carruthers 5-4 in an extra end.

James Craik (1-2) and his crew from Scotland scored their first win with a 7-4 victory over Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa.

Both Carruthers and Yanagisawa were eliminated from playoff contention at 0-3.

KIOTI National: Scores | Shootout Standings | Draw Schedule | Broadcast Schedule


The KIOTI National continues Friday with Draw 13 at 8:30 a.m. local time (AT). Tickets are available at the Pictou County Wellness Centre box office and online at

Broadcast coverage resumes with Draw 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).


The KIOTI National is the second event of the Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … Each team plays four round-robin games with the top eight advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals. … The semifinals are also on tap Saturday with both finals scheduled for Sunday.