Vernon’s Jim Cotter opened the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian Men’s Curling Championships in Brandon with a hard-fought win.
Cotter, backed by third Steve Laycock of Saskatoon, second Tyrel Griffith of Kelowna and lead Rick Sawatsky of Vernon, needed an extra end to subdue Nova Scotia’s Stuart Thompson of Dartmouth 8-7 Saturday night.
Cotter, appearing in his eighth Brier, as are Laycock and Sawatsky (Griffith is in his sixth national championship), hit and stuck in front of a pair of Nova Scotia stones with the last rock to score the winning point in the 11th end.
Thompson, the youngest skip in Brandon at 26, making his Brier debut, had a chance to score two for the win in the 10th end, but was heavy on his final stone draw.
Cotter, likewise, was heavy with his final stone in nine with a chance to score three, and settled for a deuce and a 7-6 lead without hammer heading home.
The B.C. champs (1-0) will play David St. Louis of Nunavut (0-1) Sunday at noon Pacific time.
In other Pool B action on opening day:
* Two-time defending champion Brad Gushue of Newfoundland/Labrador had his hands full and needed a last-rock draw in the 10th end to finally subdue rookie Scott McDonald of Ontario 7-6.
* Three-time Tim Hortons Brier champion Kevin Koe and Team Alberta (1-0, Calgary) stole deuces in the eighth and ninth to beat his brother, Jamie Koe and Team Northwest Territories (0-1, Yellowknife) 9-4.
Terry Odishaw and Team New Brunswick (1-0, Moncton) stole seven points in three ends and went on to beat David St. Louis and Team Nunavut (0-1, Iqaluit) 10-2.
Teams winning in Pool A included Northern Ontario (Brad Jacobs), Manitoba (Mike McEwen), Prince Edward Island (John Likely) and Quebec (Martin Crete).
There are eight rinks in both pools. After a seven-game pool round-robin, the top four in each group advance, bringing their records into a four-game round-robin with the other pool. The top four teams from there move on to the page playoffs.