It was the Valentine’s Day present that Jim Cotter and his Vernon/Kelowna rink were hoping for – another purple heart.
The foursome beat Sean Geall’s Royal City rink 7-6 on Sunday evening to win the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship.
The victory means the foursome have all won another purple heart – one of curling’s most storied prizes. It will be the sixth trip to the Brier for Jim Cotter, skip, and the second for his third Ryan Kuhn. Tyrel Griffith will be Brier-bound for the fourth time, while lead Rick Sawatsky also enjoys his sixth trip.
Speaking after the victory, Cotter thanked his teamates, who he said had been integral to the victory. He said: “They make more shots for me than I make. It feels fantastic. Hats off to Sean Geall’s team, they’re all phenomenal guys and good friends off the ice.”
Speaking about preparation for the Brier, Cotter said: “We’ve got to make sure we’re doing the little things to stay sharp.”
Cotter had a perfect record at the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship, never losing a game at the Nelson Curling Centre venue. The curling started on Feb 10 and wrapped up today (Sunday, February 14).
Geall and his rink of third Andrew Bilesky, second Steve Kopf and lead Mark Olson battled hard during the final, but could not get past Team Cotter, who took back to back steals in the third and fourth ends. The team features two members of the 2013 BC Men’s championship team (Team Bilesky with Bilesky and Kopf), while Geall and Olson represented B.C. in the 2009 Brier.
Geall had missed the first two games of the competition because his wife was due to give birth to their third child. The couple’s daughter was born on February 10 and he flew in on February 11 to join his team. With Geall on board, the foursome was able to make it to the page 1 vs 2 playoffs, where they faced Cotter. They lost 5-1. The loss meant facing Royal City rivals Team Joanisse in the semis. In that game early today (Sunday, Feb 14) Joanisse and his rink of third Paul Cseke, second Jay Wakefield and lead John Cullen gave up a steal of two in the fourth end due to an unfortunate pick and they were unable to recover, eventually losing 4-2 to Geall.
A total of 16 teams from across the province qualified for the 2016 Canadian Direct Insurance BC Men’s Curling Championship.
Team Cotter will represent B.C. at the Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa (March 5-13).