B.C. beats Alberta 9-5 at Brier Friday to go straight through to final
Friday, Mar 07, 2014 12:01 am
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - John Morris is now just one game away from bringing British Columbia their fifth Canadian men's curling championship, after handing Alberta's Kevin Koe his second loss of the day Friday.
"Hopefully we can play the same come 4:30 Sunday," said B.C. fourth stone Jim Cotter.
"I've never been in a Brier final myself so we're still soaking it in right now."
"We got a little fortunate this morning," added skip and third stone Morris, thanking Quebec for getting them in the 1-2 game by beating Alberta earlier in the day.
"Coming out of the gate strong and being sharp like that, having the draw weight was important, and Jimmy made a couple of bonus highlight reel shots."
He also liked the energy from the almost packed house, by far the biggest crowd of the week at the Interior Savings Centre. More than 4,300 filled the 5,000-seat arena and loudly cheered B.C. and Cotter, a Kamloops native.
B.C. scored two in the first end with the hammer and stole another in the second when Koe's draw to the button was millimetres short.
With a three in the fourth set up by one of Cotter's house-clearing highlight reel shots, Morris was up 6-1 and it looked like the 1-2 Page playoff game was over except for the handshake.
But Koe finally picked up a deuce in five off a miss on a half-rock double by Cotter and a steal in eight kept it going through nine, when Koe conceded after B.C. picked up one to make it 9-5.
"I struggled a bit, kind of the wrong side of the inch there tonight," said the Alberta skip, who won the Brier and a world championship in 2010.
"Obviously they weren't missing much so we were in trouble when we weren't playing our best."
Alberta also dropped their last round-robin game to Quebec Friday, which cost them the hammer in the evening 1-2 Page playoff game and got B.C. into the game.
B.C., Manitoba and Alberta all finished at 9-2 and a tiebreaking formula was used to rank them. Had Alberta beat Quebec, they would have faced Manitoba.
Alberta will now have to play the winner of the Manitoba-Quebec 3-4 game Saturday. The winner of that semifinal will face Morris Sunday in the final.
"Today wasn't our day but fortunately we put ourselves in a position where we have another life," Koe said. "We've done well in the semis at the Brier before."
The last B.C. rink to win the Brier was Greg McAulay in 2000, who went on to become world champion that year. Coincidentally, Both McAulay and Morris were born in Winnipeg.
Earlier Friday, within the span of a minute or two, Saskatchewan was out and Quebec was in the playoffs, and only partly because of Jean-Michel Menard's 7-5 upset win over Alberta.
Even with Quebec's victory, Saskatchewan skip Steve Laycock was up one with the hammer and had an open draw against three to beat New Brunswick and force Menard into a tiebreaker. Laycock was heavy with the final stone and it proved costly.
"We knew that we had to win," said Laycock. "We knew it was in our control to try and get in that tiebreaker and just didn't finish that game out, a really poor last end."
Saskatchewan finished at 6-5, tied with Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue and New Brunswick's Jamie Grattan. Had Menard lost, there could have been a four-way tie for fourth place and a round of afternoon tiebreakers.
Instead he'll now get to play Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton Saturday in the 3-4 Page playoff game.
Stoughton took it in stride, although Alberta's loss also cost him the spot in the 1-2 game.
"Quebec's a great team and Kevin's team just wasn't quite as sharp as they had been all week and Quebec got them, so we get to play Quebec now," said Stoughton, a three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion.
"It's good though, because they beat us earlier so we can get a little revenge on them at this game."
Menard, the 2006 champion who's making his fifth Brier appearance for Quebec, was 7-4, although he also beat each of the top three teams in the round robin.
"Our goal was to make it to the playoffs and there you never know what's going to happen ... if there's still some magic in our bag we'll try to use it," he said.
Menard seemed in control throughout the game and got a boost with a three-point end in the fifth. Koe, who was solid all week, finished with a 76 per cent rating and his teammates struggled as well.
Prince Edward Island's Eddie MacKenzie (4-7) finished the round robin with an 11-7 win over Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories/Yukon (3-8).
Ontario's Greg Balsdon (5-6) capped his Brier debut with a 9-6 win over Jamie Murphy's winless Nova Scotia team (0-11). Northern Ontario was also well back at 2-9.