With Saturday’s Page Playoff already established, the final night of Championship Pool play at the Tim Hortons Brier was a warm-up for those who will enter the weekend bracket.
The four best teams through the preliminary round held their positions through the Championship Pool, setting up second matches in as many days between Northern Ontario and Alberta, and Canada and Wild Card at Westoba Place in Brandon.
Thursday and Friday’s Championship round results pits Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs against Alberta’s Kevin Koe for the 1-2 Page Playoff game Saturday at 7 p.m., while the 3-4 game will see Canada’s Brad Gushue facing Brendan Bottcher and his Wild Card rink at 2 p.m.
The final game of Championship Pool play presented the same four teams meeting the same opponents one night before. Jacobs, with a single loss through 10 games of the tournament, met Koe and their perfect 10-0 record to close the Championship Pool play on Friday evening. The two teams were in separate pools earlier in the week, making the match their first meeting of the Brier.
The game opened with both teams running takeout after takeout leaving a clean house in both the first and second ends and the hammer in Koe’s hands. The strategy didn’t pan out for Alberta, though. Jacobs had a well-guarded rock at the edge of the button and Koe did not hit a raise takeout square enough to remove it, allowing Northern Ontario to steal one. He made up for it by counting three in the fourth end after dominating the front left side of the four-foot ring.
It stayed 3-1 heading into the second half after the teams blanked the fifth end. Jacobs knotted it at three in the sixth with a pair of draws behind Alberta guards before the Koe blanked seven then scored two in the eighth to take the lead 5-3. Jacobs tied the game at five before Koe maintained his perfect, 11-game round robin record by scoring two in the final end with the hammer for a 7-5 victory.
Meanwhile on the next sheet over, Gushue faced Edmonton’s Bottcher rink. Like the top two teams in the standings, Canada and Wild Card played each other for the first time this week and were guaranteed to meet again in the Page Playoff heading into the game.
Bottcher gained the advantage early, scoring one with the hammer in the first end, then stealing another in the second. Gushue rebounded in the third, fourth, and fifth scoring a deuce with the hammer then stealing a deuce and a single to quickly turn the table on Bottcher, 5-2. However, Bottcher immediately responded with two in the sixth.
Gushue stayed the course, though, drawing for three more in the seventh before Bottcher scored a single in the eighth end and shook hands to end the match with the score 8-5.
The other two games Friday evening contained teams that will not be continuing into the weekend. British Columbia defeated Saskatchewan 6-5 while home-team Manitoba doubled up Ontario 8-4 to close their Brier competition.
In the third draw of the Championship Pool on Friday afternoon, Alberta extended their winning streak to 10 games with a 9-3, eight-end victory over Saskatchewan; Northern Ontario rebounded from their loss to Ontario the previous night to defeat Canada 7-6 on a 10th-end single; Manitoba knocked over British Columbia in nine ends; and the Wild Card squad beat Ontario 6-4 in nine ends.
Ontario’s Scott McDonald, who had upset Jacobs the previous evening, was eliminated from weekend bracket play with their afternoon loss to Bottcher.