PICTOU COUNTY, N.S. — The Team Bottcher train took the express route to a playoff berth in the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge.
Brendan Bottcher and his Edmonton-based crew have rolled out to a 3-0 start to punch their ticket to the weekend quarterfinals early with one more group game on the schedule.
Team Bottcher completed a late comeback Thursday morning scoring three in the seventh and stealing two in the eighth to beat Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller 9-6 and remain undefeated.
Schwaller has the opposite record at 0-3.
Bottcher finished runner-up in the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge last season before going on a remarkable run winning three straight titles in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.
Elsewhere in Draw 6, Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene moved up to a 2-0 record following an 8-3 victory over Team Scott McDonald of Kingston in an all-Ontario battle. McDonald dropped to 0-3.
Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen improved to a 2-1 record rallying with a deuce in eight and a steal in the extra end to edge Team Peter de Cruz 7-6. De Cruz, from Switzerland, is now at 0-2.
Team Nina Roth climbed to 2-0 after defeating Team Chelsea Carey 7-4 in the lone women’s match on the draw. Third Tabitha Peterson has moved up to skip the American squad with Roth on maternity leave.
Carey, the reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts from Calgary, fell to 0-2.
The Tier 1 divisions, featuring 15 of the top teams from around the globe based on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit, are split into three pools for round-robin play with the top eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs.
The Tier 2 divisions consist of 16 teams including the next 10 ranked teams on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit and six teams from within the event’s region.
The KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge is the second of six events on the 2019-20 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule. … Winners of the Tier 1 divisions earn $30,000 and berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Also up for grabs in the Tier 1 only are Pinty’s Cup bonus points. The leaders following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April will capture the Pinty’s Cup with additional prize money awarded. … Winners of the Tier 2 divisions earn $10,000 and promotions to face the world’s best at the 2020 Meridian Canadian Open.