Bruce Mouat of Scotland was the hero of the day capturing the Humpty’s Champions Cup men’s title with a 6-3 victory over Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher in Monday’s final at Calgary’s WinSport Arena.
The world men’s silver medallists of Mouat, third Grant Hardie, second Bobby Lammie and lead Hammy McMillan Jr., earned $25,000 CDN from the $105,000 purse in the first of back-to-back Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events taking place inside the bubble.
Mouat shot a team-leading 92 per cent to capture his second career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title.
“I’m very excited and very happy,” said Mouat, made history at the 2017 BOOST National when he became the youngest men’s skip to win a Grand Slam title at age 23. “It was nice to win after getting the silver last week at worlds. I’m over the moon, really.”
The now 26-year-old from Edinburgh and his team were a tour de force through the week starting out with a 3-0 record in pool play before running into the also undefeated Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and falling 7-4. That dropped Mouat from a potential bye to the semifinals down to the quarterfinals against Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin in a rematch from the world championship gold medal game.
Mouat avenged that defeat stealing points in the seventh and eighth ends to edge Edin 6-5 and setting up another redemption story for the semis against Gushue. It came down to the final shot of the game and Mouat came from behind to victory once more with the shot of the tournament scoring two points to win 5-4 and punch his ticket to the final.
“The whole week really felt like a battle,” Mouat said. “None of the three games at the start that we won really felt easy or comfortable. I think they were all pretty much close games and came down to the last shot as well. It just shows our resilience and we obviously love playing in the Slams and we’re so happy that we were able to play to keep on fighting through every game. To even steal that quarterfinal win against Niklas was quite big for us — a rematch of the worlds. It was good to see that we’re all able to stick in and get the win.”
Mouat had to chase to start again as Bottcher covered the pinhole during the draw to the button shootout to score the hammer and converted on an open hit for a deuce in the first end. Bottcher poured the pressure on in the second to sit three counters and Mouat made it through the tricky triangle for a single point.
The three-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion Bottcher drew for one in the third but an attempt to hit and roll under cover in the fourth was still exposed allowing Mouat to tap and stay to score the equalizing deuce.
Mouat took the lead for the first time — and for good — in the fifth end sitting three counters in the house and forcing Bottcher to draw. The shooter came up light stopping in the 12-foot circle as Mouat pirated a pair of points. After a blank in six, Bottcher was looking for a nose runback to shuffle the deck in seven but when the dust cleared it was another steal with Mouat swiping an insurance marker.
“I think we obviously were struggling to kind of force them for a bit and then were able to get that cheeky steal of two in the fifth end, which turned the tide,” Mouat said. “We are a really strong team when we’re up in the game and we know what to do in that situation. We just made Brendan play some really tough shots and uncharacteristic misses from him I guess.”
Mouat doubled Bottcher out of rocks in the eighth end as a handful of curlers in the stands cheered including compatriots Team Eve Muirhead.
“It was really nice to have a wee round of applause from, I don’t know, maybe 10 people,” Mouat said with a laugh. “It was really nice that they came and watched and we really appreciate that they got out of their beds and came over.”
Teamwork makes the dream work and Mouat credited the whole lineup, which was solid and sharp shooting 86 per cent as a unit in the final, from Hardie calling the right line to Lammie and McMillan Jr. holding it on the scrub.
“Those shots are massive team shots,” Mouat said. “It’s not just always done to the thrower and I think a lot of people forget that. You have to have good sweepers, you have to have someone that’s got the ability to call the line. It’s a massive shot for that individual but it’s really every shot comes down to having a team.”
It was a repeat of the qualification matchup from the world men’s curling championship that also took place on this very ice earlier this month.
Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin entered the Humpty’s Champions Cup as the defending champions as the event was not held last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team Bottcher, who captured a third straight Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s title at the 2019 tournament, cashed in $17,000 for finishing runners-up. Bottcher went 3-1 through their group and earned the second bye to the semifinals thanks to their strong draw to the button shootout scores. It was a Brier final rematch in the semis and Bottcher was victorious again over Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe 6-2.
Later Monday, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan face defending women’s champions Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland. Watch at 6 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. local time on Sportsnet with online streaming at Sportsnet Now (Canada) and Yare (international).
There’s no rest for the world’s best as the Princess Auto Players’ Championship begins Tuesday afternoon. Broadcast coverage begins Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET / Noon local time on Sportsnet.
Mouat said it would mean quite a lot to keep the momentum going to wrap up the season.
“We obviously have not had much of a season, so it would be really good to keep that going or keep the season going as long as we can,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re playing next Sunday as well.”