Bottcher beats Gushue to win KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup men’s title
REGINA — Brendan Bottcher capped an undefeated week at the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup with a 5-3 victory over Brad Gushue in Sunday’s all-Canadian men’s final.
It’s the fifth career Grand Slam title for Bottcher and his second in three events with third Marc Kennedy, second Brett Gallant and lead Ben Hebert.
The first-year Calgary-based club cashed in $25,000 from the $210,000 combined prize purse.
“It’s just awesome,” Bottcher said. “I think we put in so much work through the fall. I feel like we’ve really started to get on a little bit of a roll, come together and gel as a team here in the last couple of months. It’s just been awesome that we’ve been rewarded with a couple of Slam wins in our first season together.”
“We put this team together for one thing and that was to win,” he added. “It’s just a great week here to win going into the summer, lots of energy and excitement. Hopefully, we come out good and play good to start next year.”
The stands and Pinty’s zone at ice level were packed with fans, many of them friends and family of Hebert, who was born and raised right here in Regina.
“We played a couple of years with no fans and that was hard, so I’m really appreciative that we’re playing these events closer to home,” Bottcher said. “We have lots of friends and family out. It’s awesome.”
Bottcher (7-0) opened with the hammer but was forced to settle for a single off the bat as he stuffed his hit-and-roll blank attempt.
With Bottcher up 2-1 at the halftime break, Gushue (6-2) drew for a deuce in the fifth to take his first lead of the game.
Gushue’s lead didn’t last long, however, as Bottcher responded taking two right back in the sixth by splitting the rings and having an open hit to count his couple of points and pull back ahead 4-3.
“Against the top teams, there’s very little between us, so starting with hammer was big,” Bottcher said. “I thought we kind of set the tone for the first half of the game and ultimately we got to a pretty favourable position coming home.”
After Gushue blanked the seventh to retain the hammer coming home, the 14-time Grand Slam champion was looking to either make a nose hit to tie it — and then have to steal the title in an extra end — or attempt to go around the horn on the other side and potentially win the game outright.
Gushue, who was the event’s defending champion, weighed the odds and opted for the latter but couldn’t pull off the circus shot for either the win or even the tie to force OT as Bottcher was left with shot rock when the dust settled.
“It’s always a little scary when the other skip has a shot to win but that was a hard one,” Bottcher said. “You just do what you can do. We left him a hard one and fortunately, we got a half shot.”
The St. John’s, N.L., crew of Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker earned $17,000 as runners-up.
Kerri Einarson and Rachel Homan face off in the all-Canadian women’s final at 3 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT) on Sportsnet 360 and SN NOW.