Brad Jacobs shoots a stone during the Boost National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

Jacobs, Morris complete Tim Hortons Brier field

February 13, 2017, 12:32 AM

The lineup is now set for next month’s Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s, N.L.

A few familiar faces return with John Morris winning again in B.C. in his first season back with Jim Cotter’s crew while Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs, Manitoba’s Mike McEwen and New Brunswick’s Mike Kennedy all successfully defending their provincial titles.

Meanwhile, a new champion was crowned in Alberta with incumbent Kevin Koe already earning the Team Canada auto-berth. Brendan Bottcher emerged with an extra-end victory over Ted Appelman for his first trip to the men’s nationals.

Here are all of the highlights from Sunday’s action across Canada:


NEW BRUNSWICK

Mike Kennedy of Fredericton is heading back to the Tim Hortons Brier.

Kennedy successfully defended the New Brunswick Pepsi Tankard stealing three in the ninth to beat Charlie Sullivan of Saint John 7-4 in Sunday’s final.

After giving up a steal of three to open the scoring in the second, Kennedy bounced back with a deuce in the third. The teams alternated singles in four and six and Kennedy stole one in eight to make it all square.

Kennedy, a six-time provincial winner, topped the round-robin table with a 6-1 record to move directly into the championship game. Sullivan defeated James Grattan of Oromocto 8-6 in Saturday’s semifinal.


NORTHERN ONTARIO

Olympic gold medallist Brad Jacobs is bound for the Tim Hortons Brier once again.

Jacobs earned his seventh Northern Ontario Travelers Tankard in the past eight years with a 6-3 victory over Dylan Johnston in Sunday’s final in Thunder Bay.

The Sault Ste. Marie native posted a perfect 7-0 record during the round-robin portion to advance straight through to the championship game. Johnston, of Thunder Bay, bested Sudbury’s Chris Glibota 8-7 in Saturday’s semifinal.

Jacobs, the 2013 Brier winner, earned bronze at the Canadian men’s championship a year ago.


MANITOBA

It’s a repeat for Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen at the Manitoba Viterra Championship.

McEwen successfully defended the men’s provincial title defeating Reid Carruthers of West St. Paul 8-7 in Sunday’s final.

The team of McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld are now off to St. John’s, N.L., next month to compete in their second career Tim Hortons Brier.

It was a bit of redemption for McEwen (7-1), who sustained his lone defeat in the tournament to Carruthers during the Page 1 vs. 1 playoff. Tied 1-1, McEwen’s last rock in the eighth end picked to give up a steal of two. Carruthers, who topped McEwen in the 2015 final, remained ahead to win 4-2 and take the direct berth — and hammer advantage — in the final.

McEwen made a risky choice in the first end opting to tuck his last buried rather than rip out Carruthers’s counter at the top of the rings. It paid off though as Carruthers was only able to graze McEwen’s rock and gave up a steal.

Carruthers took two in the second and forced McEwen to hit and stick for a single in three to knot it up 2-2.

McEwen made it through the port in the fifth to pull off a tricky double takeout and sit a pair. Third Braeden Moskowy needed to join sweepers Colin Hodgson and Derek Samagalski to drag Carruthers’s draw shot into the four-foot circle for a single.

The lead bounced back and forth as McEwen took two in the sixth and Carruthers matched with a deuce in seven to keep pace and pull back ahead 5-4.

Momentum shifted in the eighth as Carruthers looked to draw to the tee-line and freeze with his last, but it rolled heavy and landed on top of one of his own. McEwen blasted them both out with a routine nose double takeout to count four and grab an 8-5 advantage.

Looking at a pair of counters in the ninth, Carruthers went for a double and just a single to trail by two without hammer coming home.

McEwen had to throw his last as Carruthers sat three in the house, but he pulled off a double to clinch the victory.

Earlier, McEwen advanced to the championship game with a convincing 8-2 victory over Trevor Loreth in the semifinal.

McEwen jumped out of the gate with a three-ender in the first. Loreth’s fourth Brad Haight looked to make a double with his first rock, but crashed on one of his team’s own rocks and opened the door for McEwen to set up and score three.

After McEwen made a double to sit two in the third, Haight opted to hit and stick, however, his shooter rolled out to concede one. Facing a couple counters again in four, Haight came up short on the draw to give up another point. Team Loreth’s woes continued as Haight hit and rolled out in five as McEwen stole his third consecutive single to hold a commanding six-point advantage.

McEwen didn’t ease off of the pedal putting the pressure on in the sixth sitting four counters, but Loreth got on the board as Haight hit and rolled onto the button for one.

McEwen made an open hit to tack on another two points in the seventh. Loreth added another single in eight and shook hands.

It was a career-best run for Loreth, who hadn’t qualified for the playoffs in provincials prior to this year.


ALBERTA

Brendan Bottcher captured his first career Alberta Boston Pizza Cup scoring a single in the extra end to edge out Ted Appelman 6-5 during Sunday’s all-Edmonton final in Westlock.

The team of Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Bradley Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin will now represent the province at the Tim Hortons Brier. They join fellow Albertan Kevin Koe and his crew from Calgary, who did not return to defend the provincial crown having earned the Team Canada auto-berth as the reigning national champions.

Sportsnet analyst Kevin Martin, a 12-time Alberta winner and father of Karrick, serves as Team Bottcher’s coach.

Bottcher remained undefeated en route to the title qualifying for the Page playoffs through the A side at 3-0 and defeating Charley Thomas’s Edmonton team 8-3 in the A-B match.

Opening with the hammer, Bottcher made a double takeout in the second for a single. Appelman pulled off a double of his own in the fourth and stuck his shooter for a deuce to go ahead. Bottcher attempted a gentle tap on Appelman’s shot rock in five to get back two, but he over-curled and jammed the counter for just one to tie it 2-2.

Appelman aimed to hit and stick for one in the sixth, but over-curled and his shooter rolled away to give up a steal. Sitting shot rock frozen in seven, Appelman attempted to raise his own guard, but didn’t get the right angle and settled for a point to tie it back up 3-3.

With a chance to possibly score four in the eighth on a come-around tap, Bottcher’s last rock was over-swept, glancing Appelman’s shot stone and rolling away to only count a single.

Bottcher closed up the port in the ninth end, forcing Appelman to make a tricky wide angle raise on his own guard. That shuffled the cluster of rocks around in the house but couldn’t get Appelman shot stone as Bottcher counted another single steal to lead 5-3.

Appelman split up the rings in the 10th to set up the tying deuce and force the extra frame.

Moulding cleaned out the sheet on his first throw to sit one leaving Appelman nowhere to hide and Bottcher made an open hit and stick with the final rock of the game.

It’s been quite the turnaround for Team Bottcher with Moulding coming onboard only a few weeks ago. Tom Appelman, now throwing third on his brother’s team, previously played with Bottcher and was dropped from the lineup last year with veteran Pat Simmons entering the picture for this season. The team never seemed to click together and the two-time Brier champ Simmons parted ways over the Christmas break.

Earlier, Appelman topped Thomas 8-6 in Sunday’s semifinal to book a spot in the championship game.

Thomas blanked the first couple ends and his patience paid off in the third as he hit, rolled and stayed on the edge of the 12-foot circle with his first skip stone then had a freebie draw into the rings for his two points.

A big miss by Thomas in the fifth end allowed Appelman to turn things around. Thomas attempt a double takeout, however, his shooter flew through the house untouched allowing Appelman to draw and score four and go ahead 4-2.

Thomas looked to make a thin double for a deuce in six and hit the first counter, but his shooter missed the second, which held up for shot stone and a steal making it 5-2.

Thomas took two in the seventh and Appelman matched with a pair in eight to reestablish the three-point cushion. Appelman couldn’t quite get the across-the-house double takeout as the second rock remained in the rings and Thomas drew for another deuce in nine to narrow the gap 7-6.

Appelman held the hammer coming home and didn’t need to throw his last as Thomas aimed to make a double takeout but jammed the counter to keep it locked on the button.


B.C.

John Morris completed an undefeated run to the belairdirect B.C. men’s curling championship in Abbotsford with a 6-3 win in Sunday’s final over Dean Joanisse.

Morris settled for a single in the second, stole one in three and Joanisse drew level with a deuce in four. Another single in five gave Morris the lead back and steals of two in six and one in seven extended it to a four-point advantage. Joanisse got a point in eight.

Earlier, Joanisse stole four in the extra end to edge Glenn Jackson 11-7 during Sunday’s semifinal. Facing four in OT, Jackson’s last rock went straight through the house.

Morris topped Joanisse 11-6 in the Page 1 vs. 2 playoff to advance to the final. The 2010 Olympic gold medallist Morris, who throws third stones, claimed his second career B.C. title after rejoining Jim Cotter’s Vernon-based crew — which also includes second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky — this season. Team Morris took the provincial championship and finished runner-up at the Tim Hortons Brier in 2014 during their previous season together.

It is the fourth consecutive and seventh overall B.C. title for Cotter.

Morris played in the past two Briers as a member of Team Canada with Pat Simmons’s squad.


TIM HORTONS BRIER TEAMS

The 2017 Tim Hortons Brier runs March 4-12 in St. John’s, N.L.

Team Skip
Canada Kevin Koe
Alberta Brendan Bottcher
B.C. John Morris
Manitoba Mike McEwen
New Brunswick Mike Kennedy
Newfoundland & Labrador Brad Gushue
Northern Ontario Brad Jacobs
Nova Scotia Jamie Murphy
Ontario Glenn Howard
P.E.I. Eddie MacKenzie
Quebec Jean-Michel Menard
Saskatchewan Adam Casey
NWT Jamie Koe
Nunavut Jim Nix
Yukon Craig Kochan

Note: Nova Scotia, Nunavut, P.E.I. and Yukon will play in a pre-qualifying tournament.

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