OAKVILLE, Ont. — Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher and Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe climbed to 2-0 records Wednesday and reached the triple knockout A bracket finals in the Masters.
Bottcher defeated Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 7-2 while Koe clipped Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 5-4 during Draw 7 action Wednesday at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
Koe and Bottcher are one win away from qualifying for the playoffs. Gunnlaugson and Jacobs now both hold 1-1 records and dropped to the B brackets.
“It was great,” Bottcher said. “We’ve curled a little less than some of the other teams so far this year. It’s felt like it’s taken us a little bit to get where we want to be and we practised hard last weekend. I was happy that all panned out.
“I thought we came out and played pretty good yesterday, maybe not our best, and I think we improved on that a little bit again today.”
A thrilling third end broke the game wide open for Bottcher as the reigning Brier champion lined up a runback double takeout to score five points.
“It’s obviously awesome when you make a great shot like that to score a big end,” Bottcher said. “We played a solid end all through the lineup. I thought we were putting rocks almost on a dime where we wanted them and that forced Jason to take more risk every shot than he really wanted to take. In the end, he made his shot really as good as he could and it wasn’t enough.
“That’s really a testament to the guys. We played a great end and we were rewarded at the end.”
Bottcher stole one in the fourth to increase the gap and didn’t ease up sitting five counters in the fifth end to force Gunnlaugson to hit for just a single. It was game over early after Bottcher tacked another point on the board in the sixth.
“In the five-rock rule there are just more rocks in play,” Bottcher said. “Even when you’re ahead, the other team always has a chance but it’s good. It’s exciting. It’s good for the fans, it’s good for TV and I think it’s more exciting for us to play as well.”
Team Bottcher curled 89 per cent as a unit during the game with their skip shooting an outstanding 98 per cent.
The foursome are using Goldline’s special United We Curl brushes designed by Greyden Yee Louison to help promote diversity in the sport. Bottcher said it’s outstanding and awesome that Goldline partnered up with Louison, Andrew Paris and Deb Martin on the initiative.
“It’s a conversation that needs to be had, not just in curling but in a variety of sports,” Bottcher said. “I’m proud to be able to contribute even a small little bit in using those brushes out there.”
Meanwhile, it was only single points on the board until the final frame in a heavyweight tilt between Koe and Jacobs. Koe, who held the hammer, didn’t need to throw his last rock as he already sat two stones and Jacobs wrecked on a guard.
Japan’s Team Yuta Matsumura downed Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen 8-2 and Team Niklas Edin of Sweden topped Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson 8-5 to secure their first wins in the B brackets.
Matsumura and Edin improved to 1-1 records while McEwen and Paterson, both 0-2, are now in the C Event and must win three straight in order to reach the playoffs.
The Masters continues with Draw 8 at 8 p.m. ET.
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 eliminated from 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.
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. … 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. … Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 11 a.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).