Brendan Bottcher shoots a stone during the Humpty's Champions Cup men's semifinals on April 27, 2019, in Saskatoon. (Anil Mungal)

Bottcher, Koe to battle for Champions Cup title

April 28, 2019, 12:34 AM

SASKATOON — Team Brendan Bottcher is through to the final of a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament for a fourth time this season and the Edmonton squad is hoping it’ll result in a third consecutive title to wrap up its banner year.

Team Bottcher blitzed Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat 7-2 in only five ends Saturday night during the semifinals of the season finale Humpty’s Champions Cup at the jam-packed Merlis Belsher Place.

Bottcher captured his first trophy in the series during January’s Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask., and made it back-to-back picking up the Players’ Championship just two weeks ago in Toronto.

“It’s awesome,” said Bottcher, who also finished runner-up at the Tour Challenge Tier 1 in November. “We just had such an amazing season and I feel like it’s really fitting that we’re out here in another final. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was another big final against Koe.

“It’s just been great and it’s such a great cap to the end of the year to be able to come out here one more time and prove, just one more time, that we deserve to be here.”

Team Bottcher will clash once again with Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe, who scored two in the eighth end to clip reigning world champions Team Niklas Edin of Sweden 6-5.

Bottcher has been on a red-hot roll entering the final undefeated after finishing at the top of the round-robin table with a 4-0 record and ousted Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 4-1 earlier Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Bottcher shot 90 percent in the semifinal and set the pace early converting for a deuce in the first frame and forced Mouat to just a single in the second. An open hit for three in the third gave Bottcher a firm grasp on the game and it turned into a 7-1 stranglehold with a steal of two in the fourth as Mouat wrecked on a guard.

“It’s great. It really lets you relax a little bit and in those games it’s tough to relax often,” Bottcher said. “It was nice. The two in the first was big. We were sort of setting up for two or three all end and then he made a great last shot to put me in some trouble but managed to pull it out and I think that sort of set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Mouat still had a good chance to get back into it in the fifth although he needed to make a tricky raise and feather to score three. It didn’t quite go as planned resulting in just another single and early handshakes.

Koe finished runner-up to Bottcher in the Players’ final after earning silver for Canada at the world championship. The Pinty’s Cup winners went 3-1 through pool play with just a blip against Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., which they avenged with a 6-3 win during the quarterfinals.

“Slam finals, they’re tough,” Koe said. “This our last event as a team this year. Benny (Hebert) can’t come to the last one with us, so it feels good. It just seems like we’re playing the same guy in every event, so looking forward to it.”

“It’s nice to come through in the end and knock off the top teams,” he added. “We played great against Brad. A little hot and cold that game but made the ones where we had to. It’ll be nice to win this so we can get back in it next year.”

The electric crowd came out to support a couple of their home-province boys with Team Koe second Colton Flasch and lead Hebert both originally from Saskatchewan. Koe also had his father Fred sitting behind his sheet in the Pinty’s Pub and Grill Zone for all of his games.

“It’s been a great week for us with Saskatoon and the event that they’ve put on,” Koe said. “It’s always nice to make your last one to win and it’s nice to have my dad here.”

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Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., will collide with reigning world champions Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland in the women’s final.

Einarson, who won the women’s Players’ Championship, scored three in the eighth end to edge Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg 5-4 while Tirinzoni cooled Team Rachel Homan from Ottawa by a similar score.

Team Einarson went 3-1 through round-robin play, their lone loss against Tirinzoni, and rallied late to beat Russia’s Team Alina Kovaleva 8-6 in the quarterfinals by scoring three in the seventh and stealing two in the eighth.

The all-new Team Einarson kicked off a remarkable run winning four consecutive World Curling Tour titles defeating Tirinzoni for the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in early September.

Tirinzoni also posted a 3-1 round-robin record and eked out a 4-3 victory over Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., in the quarterfinals. Team Tirinzoni competes in a third GSOC final this season with runner-up results at the Princess Auto Elite 10 and Meridian Canadian Open.

The double defending champions Homan had entered the final undefeated with five consecutive wins. Team Hasselborg had Scotland’s Eve Muirhead subbing at skip this week.

Muirhead had Einarson on the run for most of the match with a two-point advantage heading into the eighth until missing a double on her last rolling under and allowing Einarson to draw into the four-foot circle with the final rock, landing on the lid, for the decisive three points.

“I was pretty confident in making that draw to the four-foot,” said Einarson, who didn’t need to throw her last while defeating Team Hasselborg in the Players’ Championship final.

Einarson added it would be awesome to finish the GSOC season — and her first playing with former skips Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Meilleur — in the winner’s circle again as they compete in a 10th tournament final this season.

“Finishing off with two big wins would be pretty cool,” she said. “After this event, we have one more left and then we’re done for the season.”

The men’s final gets underway Sunday at 10 a.m. CST (Noon ET; Sportsnet) followed by the women’s final at 2 p.m. CST (4 p.m. ET; Sportsnet 360). Online streaming for both finals is available via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

Notes: The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the seventh and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season. Teams had to win a top tour event in order to qualify for the event. … The total purse is $250,000, split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions, with the winners earning $40,000. … A new rule is being tested at the event where teams cannot perform tick shots on rocks sitting on the centre line during the eighth and extra ends.