PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — John Morris was prepared to battle Brad Jacobs down to the wire for the Princess Auto Elite 10 championship in Sunday’s final.
With the game all square in the eighth end, Morris sat four stones in the house but not shot rock. It all came to Team Morris fourth Jim Cotter making the final throw of the championship game. And what a shot it was as Cotter wound up and pulled off a beauty angle raise to chip out Jacobs’s counter and capture the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title with a 1-up victory.
Morris felt confident with Cotter making that last shot although he was a little nervous.
“It was coming down and I’m just glad we had the last shot for the win and Jimmy is usually good at making those. It wasn’t an easy one,” Morris said. “It was just a fantastic team effort and I just want to say a big thank you here to everyone in Port Hawkesbury and the east coast. The hospitality that they showed, welcoming us curlers with open arms, being so nice and hospitable to us. It’s fantastic and we love coming to Grand Slam events out here, so thanks very much.”
While it’s the 11th time Morris has found the winner’s circle in the series, it’s his first with the Vernon, B.C., based crew of Cotter, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky. Cotter, Griffith and Sawatsky were runners-up twice in the series and captured the inaugural Tour Challenge Tier 2 title in 2015.
“It feels phenomenal,” Morris said. “Winning a Grand Slam, they’re such tough events to win. It feels great, especially [when] we’ve been so close with this team so coming out with a big W is huge. I had a tough Brier there, just missed out on the playoffs, coming back with a big W here just a week later is massive for us.”
Team Morris, who finished with a 5-1 record in the event, collected $26,000 and earned a spot to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup.
“It was a great week and it feels super good,” Cotter said. “We played in a lot of these events and have been close a few times. To pull out the win just feels great. Hats off to the team this week. They played great, we really hung in there and played well.”
Jacobs, who won the Boost National in his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., earlier this season, opened with hammer but the geometry didn’t work out for him to start. The reigning Olympic champ looked to angle raise and take out Morris’s stone, however, he also clipped one of his own and left another counter untouched to concede the first.
Things went better for Jacobs in the second end with a textbook peel to sit two and tie it up.
Facing four in the third end, Cotter landed right on the lid with his last to avoid a steal and push. Cotter made a great double bump to grab shot rock in the fourth and Jacobs’s last sailed through the house for another steal as Morris went back ahead 1-up at halftime.
Morris sat shot rock protected in the fifth and Jacobs looked to go through a narrow hole to raise and take it out, but the run missed the mark. Cotter plugged up the port, so Jacobs went around the other way and managed to make it down the line to tap one of his own, bump back the counter and win the end to bring things level.
Quick-draw Cotter was on the mark again in the sixth. Looking at four counters, Cotter landed in the four-foot circle to push.
Cotter managed to put it in the pocket to lie shot partially buried, Jacobs caught a piece of it, but bumped his other stone to only sit one and keep things all square heading into the dramatic final frame.
The next Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event is the WestJet Players’ Championship running April 11-16 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.