OLDS, Alta. — Bruce, there it is: Bruce Mouat and his Scottish squad are back in the win column at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.
The defending champs opened the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup with consecutive one-point losses and got back on track with a 6-4 victory over Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher during Draw 7 action Wednesday night at the Olds Sportsplex.
Mouat, who captured the Princess Auto Players’ Championship just a little over two weeks ago in Toronto, is supported by lead Hammy McMillan Jr., second Bobby Lammie and third Ross Whyte, who has come off of the bench as alternate to fill in for regular vice skip Grant Hardie (personal commitments).
“It felt like we’ve been close a lot the week so far and it was just really important to put a full game together and that’s what we did there,” said Mouat, who shot a game-high 90 per cent. “Ross is obviously a great player but when we bring in a new player you’re going to have a few kind of teething issues. It’s finally feeling like we’re back to firing on all cylinders.”
The game was textbook for Mouat as he forced Bottcher to single points in the odd ends while converting for deuces in second, fourth and sixth. That gave Mouat the hammer coming home in the eighth already up by two, and the five-time Grand Slam champion didn’t need to throw his last as Bottcher rolled out on his final shot to run out of rocks.
“I’m really happy we were really clinical getting our twos and forcing them to ones,” Mouat said. “That’s what you’re taught when you’re young, so it was nice to actually be able to do it.”
Although it’s not like the supporters’ section in the Pinty’s Pub that he had during the Players’ Championship, Mouat is still excited to have his father make the overseas trip again to watch him play.
“It’s really nice to have Dad come out and travel. … He was just really keen to come and watch some curling and then obviously the pandemic hit,” Mouat said. “That was a shame but now he’s back to actually travelling out with us and supporting us. He loves curling and just wants to watch the games, so I’m really happy that he’s here.”
Bottcher also holds a 1-2 record in the season finale event with two preliminary games remaining.
Meanwhile, Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., continued their solid start climbing to 3-0 with an 8-7 extra-end victory over Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe (2-1).
Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., and Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland both moved up to 3-0 records in the women’s division.
Einarson made one of her trademark doubles to score four in the seventh to earn a 7-3 decision over South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim (1-2) while Tirinzoni took two in the seventh and stole one in the eighth to top Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones 8-5.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup resumes Thursday with Draw 8 starting at 8:30 a.m. local time.
Both divisions are split into two groups of six for pool play. The best six teams overall qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals.
Pool play runs through to Friday with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for Saturday and both finals set for Sunday.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the fourth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2021-22 season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won top tour titles in order to qualify. … A combined $210,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $25,000 plus berths to next year’s KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup.