Cotter and Geall advance to A-event final

Jim Cotter dug himself a hole early Thursday afternoon, but promptly clawed his way back out in the A-event semi-final of the 2018 belairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championship presented by Berwick Retirement Homes at the Parksville Curling Club.

After an opening blank, key misses in the second end allowed Jason Montgomery of the Victoria Curling Club to steal four to jump on Cotter of Vernon, who did manage to fight back for a 9-7 win to advance to the evening A-event qualifier on Thursday night at 7.

Cotter, the four-time defending provincial champion who has also won the title seven times in total, will face Sean Geall of the Kelowna Curling Club who defeated Dean Joanisse of the Golden Ears Winter Club 7-5 in the other A-event semi-final.

Cotter’s victory wasn’t without some anxiety, however.

To add to his early dilemma was a force of one in the third end, before the veteran skip, now 43, and his team of third Catlin Schneider, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky came back with a steal of three in the fourth end.

“That’s the good thing about 10 ends, there’s lots of game left. We were unfortunate to get down early, but we battled back and it was a good character win,” said Cotter. “We struggled early, put a little pressure on and it was a good game all around. It could have gone either way.”

Montgomery and his foursome of third Cameron de Jong, second Miles Craig and lead Will Duggan rebounded for one in the fifth, which was followed by a blank in the sixth. The teams traded deuces in the seventh, eighth and ninth ends before Montgomery gave up a steal of one in the 10th.

Facing two stones that were biting the button, Montgomery’s double attempt to score one jammed in the 10th.

It was the steal of three that cost him, however.

“We could have thrown a draw, but we hadn’t thrown that in-turn draw. We would have been happy just to give up two there because we knew we were in trouble,” said Montgomery who attempted a long run-back in the fourth that sailed wide as opposed to a draw that could have cut Cotter to one.
Cotter’s patience ultimately paid off.

“One thing I’ve learned in my curling career is to be patient. We knew we didn’t have to try and get it back all at once. We were fortunate to get the three in the fourth and it was back to a game,” he said.

These two teams know each other well as Montgomery also lost the B.C. final to Cotter in 2014 in Vancouver. That was with Jody Epp on Montgomery’s team. Epp now coaches the Cotter squad.

“We’ve played him a few times over the years and have come up on the short end,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery and Joanisse now drop to the B-event and that qualifying game will be played Friday at 2 p.m. and the two C-event berths will be determined on Friday at 7 p.m.

Joanisse’s team is rounded out by third Paul Cseke, second Jay Wakefield and lead John Cullen. Geall’s foursome includes third Jeff Richard, second Andrew Nerpin and lead David Harper.

Play continues through the weekend as the four eventual qualifiers will move on to the Page playoffs on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., followed by the semi-final at 11 a.m. on Sunday and championship matchup at 4 p.m.

Tickets for the event are available at the Parksville Curling Club or on-line at http://bcmens.curlbc.ca/tickets/ and the final four games will also be broadcast across the province on Shaw TV as well as streamed on-line. Fans can check https://www.curlcbc.ca/communications/tv-schedules/ for further details.

The draw schedule and full team rosters can also be found at http://playdowns.curlbc.ca.

The B.C. representative will then move on to the Tim Hortons Brier in Regina, March 3-11.

In other Thursday games, Wes Craig of the Victoria Curling Club defeated Chris Medford of Cranbrook 6-2 in the morning; Victoria clubmate Glen Jackson edged Mark Longsworth of Vernon 6-5 in an extra end; Grant Dezura of the Golden Ears club downed Wylie Eden of the Penticton Curling Club 7-4; and Royal City Curling Club’s Brent Pierce downed Chris Baier, also of the Victoria Curling Club, 9-5, all in B-event play.