OAKVILLE, Ont. — Next stop for Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher: the quarterfinals of the Masters.
The reigning Canadian champions got back on track in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season opener to qualify for the playoffs with a 6-4 victory over Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte during Draw 14 Friday at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
It was take two for Bottcher, who made it through the B brackets of the triple knockout stage with a 3-1 record after losing 7-4 to Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat during Thursday night’s A qualifiers.
Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Team Niklas Edin of Sweden also advanced through the B qualifiers with 3-1 records. Jacobs scored a single in the eighth end to edge Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 5-4 and Edin tapped to score three points in the seventh and ran Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe out of rocks in the eighth to prevail 6-4.
Whyte, Gunnlaugson and Koe all have 2-2 records and one last chance to advance through the C bracket finals.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Team Yuta Matsumura (2-2) staved off elimination with an 11-8 decision over Team Rich Ruohonen of the United States. Ruohonen (1-3) was eliminated with the defeat.
Matsumura meets Gunnlaugson, Koe clashes with Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen and Whyte will play Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland in the evening draw.
Earlier Friday, McEwen dispatched Toronto’s Team John Epping 3-1 and de Cruz ousted defending champions Team Matt Dunstone of Regina 8-6.
After Whyte hit a double for one point in the opening end, he missed a runback attempt in the second and left the door open for Bottcher to draw for a deuce. The force was strong in the third end with Bottcher sitting four counters and Whyte settled for another single.
It was an oops moment for Bottcher in the fourth end as he misfired his last rock and jammed to give up a single steal to Whyte, who took a 3-2 lead into the halftime break.
Bottcher bounced back scoring two points in the fifth and stole one in the sixth end to grab a 5-3 advantage when Team Whyte came up just a little light on the draw into the eight-foot circle.
Whyte was able to draw to the button with his last in the seventh stanza and close back within one but handed over the hammer for the final frame. Bottcher just had to make an open hit in the eighth, adding another point on the board, to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
The Masters continues with Draw 15 at 3 p.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international). The featured game will be Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., vs. Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., in the B bracket qualifiers.
TRIPLE KNOCKOUT EXPLAINED
The triple knockout consists of three brackets: A, B and C. Teams must win three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops a team to a lower bracket until they lose three games and are out of the tournament. Two A teams (3-0 records), three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals.
NO TICK ZONE
Teams cannot tick guards off of the centre line while the five-rock, free guard zone is in effect during the eighth and extra ends only.
The Masters is the first of five events on the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule and features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … A combined $300,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $33,000 plus berths into the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup. … Triple knockout play runs through to Saturday morning. The quarterfinals and semifinals are also Saturday with both finals set for Sunday. … Tickets are available at masters.goigniter.com.