Brendan Bottcher wins his first Brier of his career.
Team Alberta wins the men's national curling championship by beating Kevin Koe.
Brendan Bottcher knew denying Kevin Koe a fifth career title at the Canadian men's curling championship would take a near-flawless result.
On Sunday night, he was nearly flawless, eventually ending a three-year silver streak at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Bottcher had a 97 percent shooting percentage to guide his Alberta team to a 4-2 win. In the tenth end, Koe's Wild Card Two conceded due to a lack of choices for scoring a game-tying deuce.
"It's just such a great feeling when you know you've put in so much effort and then you come out and do your best in the biggest game there is," Bottcher said. "It's just a very cool and unique experience."
With about 30 seconds remaining, Koe and teammates John Morris, B.J. Neufeld, and Ben Hebert took a quick look around the building. With three stones in hand and no reasonable hope of breaking even, they agreed to call it a day.
In the strange silence of the spectator-free Markin MacPhail Centre, Bottcher and teammates Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen, and Karrick Martin shared a celebratory team hug by the side of the sheet.
"I don't recall ever in my life not dreaming and needing anything like this," Moulding said. "It's been my life's work." Really, it's a bit daunting. But this is certainly what I had in mind."
Final defeats that sting
The Edmonton-based quartet made their Brier debut in 2017 and has stayed together after three heartbreaking final defeats.
"For lack of a better term, losing in this game sucks," Bottcher said. "It's a total bummer." It sucked the first time, the second time, and the third time almost as much. "We all express it differently, but (the win) means so much to us, and I think it was really on display here tonight when we closed it out," he said.
Alberta forced Wild Card Two to a single in the third end after blanking five of the first six ends.
In the seventh end, Koe flashed a stone after it was picked, and the game finally started. He also missed a double-takeout that would have put Bottcher in position for a three-point draw.
Bottcher held the pressure on by pushing Koe to make a difficult double-takeout against five batters in the eighth inning to salvage a single. Bottcher settled for a single in the ninth inning after missing a two-run double.
"Kevin was going to catch you late if there was ever a guy who was going to catch you late," Bottcher said. "I really believe we hung in there, did what we needed to do, and were able to benefit from it." That's something we should be happy with."
With hammer down to two, Koe was unable to construct the end he desired for the necessary pair to force an extra.
He said, "We just didn't take advantage." "We had two misses in ten, and we should have been able to get at least a deuce out of it." When there aren't many chances available, it's important to grab them."
Koe finished with a 74 percent score, and his team had an overall score of 84 percent. Alberta had a 91 percent success rate.
In the Canada Olympic Park bubble, the Brier was the second of seven tournaments. Last month, the Canadian women's championship got underway.
Bottcher defeated Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone 6-5 in the semifinals earlier in the day with a game-winning angle-raise.
Bottcher won the game by removing the Saskatchewan stone from the button and scoring two points.
"It was obviously a really difficult shot," Bottcher said. "But those are the moments we play for, for those kinds of shots," he says.
In the 2019 final, Calgary's Koe beat Bottcher. That year, he was a member of Team Wild Card, which was led by Bottcher.
Brier field now has 18 players.
For this season, the field was increased from 16 to 18 teams to accommodate teams that were unable to participate in provincial/territorial playdowns due to the pandemic.
Bottcher was chosen to represent Alberta, while Koe was chosen as the second of three wild-card entries based on Canadian rankings.
With a 10-2 record in the championship pool, Koe took first place. At 9-3, Dunstone and Bottcher were next.
After winning bronze last year, Dunstone was aiming to make his first career Brier final.
"There's no need to be sad," he said. "It was a championship-caliber game." "They played fantastically, and we played fantastically." Today, the curling gods wore a blue jumper. It's as plain as that. It's terrible, but it's not the end of the planet."
Rick Folk captained the last Saskatchewan team to win the Brier, in 1980.
With Ernie Richardson, Randy Ferbey, and Kevin Martin, Koe holds the record for most Brier wins as a skip with four.
He was also attempting to become the first hometown winner since Brad Gushue of St. John's, Newfoundland, did so in 2017. The following year, Gushue successfully defended his title, and he also won last season.
Bottcher will compete for Canada in the world men's curling championship, which will be held in the same venue from April 2 to 11.
His team has already qualified for the Olympic Trials in November, so the spot for the Brier victory will be filled at a pre-trials event later this fall.
Bottcher's rink took home $100,000 of the overall prize pool of $300,000. The silver medal was worth $60,000 to Koe's team.
Earlier in the day, Bottcher was declared the recipient of the Ross Harstone sportsmanship award. Along with Gushue, Saskatchewan third Braeden Moskowy, and Wild Card Two lead Ben Hebert, Thiessen was named a first-team all-star.
Koe was named to the second-team all-star team, which also included Neufeld, Brett Gallant of Canada, and Ryan Harnden of Northern Ontario.
Located in Manitoba The new Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion is Kerri Einarson.
She'll participate in the world women's curling championships from April 30 to May 9. The seventh and final event in the Calgary bubble is scheduled for that day.