Second straight loss in Brier final for Bottcher

Sherwood skip Brendan Bottcher made it to a third consecutive Brier but lost out to Kevin Koe in the final. David Bloom/Postmedia Network

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Brendan Bottcher’s status as “the next one” in curling has been further cemented.

Not that the widely held belief that his time will come is much consolation at the moment after two very close calls at making that time right now.

The 27-year-old Sherwood Park skip and his team of Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen and Karrick Martin participated in their third consecutive Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championships last week in Brandon, Manitoba, and made it all the way to their second straight championship game.

They would also experience their second straight championship game defeat.

Not that it was an easy road to get there in the first place.

Bottcher lost out to Calgary’s Kevin Koe in the provincial semifinals, but was granted a second chance with the Brier’s new Wild Card entry format and made the most of it when he defeated John Epping in the last gasp game to be the extra team in the vaunted curling championships that he had previously been Team Alberta for the previous pair of trips.

He went 8-3 in the round robin and won the 3 vs. 4 game against Team Canada’s Brad Gushue, who defeated him 6-4 in the Brier final in Regina in 2018.

Bottcher then made an outstanding triple tap shot in the 10th end of the Brier semifinal on Sunday afternoon to score a deuce and defeat Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs 5-4 and set up an all-Alberta Brier final on Sunday night against Koe.

“I was hoping the two of us were going to get to play each other in the provincial, but I’ll take the Brier final,” Bottcher told reporters after the semifinal win. “I think it really speaks to the depth we have in Alberta.”

Bottcher had his chance in the tense final with a 3-2 lead heading into the 10th end in the championship game, but Koe was able to make a dramatic medium-weight double with his last rock to score two and win 4-3.

“We played a great game, but Brendan just never goes away,” Koe told The Winnipeg Sun. “There’s so many shots where you had to be perfect and he was. He’s just a hell of a curler and we’re fortunate to end up on top.”

Bottcher took his second straight Brier final loss with good grace.

“We played 10 great ends and he made one good shot at the end to win, a classic Kevin Koe-type shot,” he said. “I’m sure if we stick with it we’re gonna win this thing eventually. This was another great week for us and we had another great season. We’re definitely trending in the right direction, do all the things we wanted to do. All you can do is put yourself in as many of these games as you can, and hopefully you win your share.”

Bottcher’s highlights from this season include a big win over Koe with a draw to the button shootout and a $43,000 to $14,000 win in the TSN Skins Game men’s final from Banff the week before provincials.

It was the third tournament that Bottcher has won this year, including his first Pinty’s Slam Tour event in January in Lloydminster.

Bottcher really burst onto the curling scene in 2012, winning the Canadian junior men’s title and then going on to capture gold at the World Junior Championships in Östersund, Sweden, as well. Bottcher added a third title in just a five-week span when he led the University of Alberta men’s curling team to its first ever title at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Curling Championships.

— with files from Postmedia Network

sjones@postmedia.com

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