With a 6-3 win over Mike McEwen and Team Ontario in the 3v4 game on Saturday afternoon, Brendan Bottcher and Wild Card #1 (Photo: Michael Burns) have secured a spot in the semifinals at the 2023 Brier in London.
By: Dylan Chenier
London - Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card #1 are through to the semifinals at the 2023 Tim Horton's Brier, after defeating Ontario's Team McEwen in the 3v4 page-playoff game on Saturday afternoon in London. Saturday's victory means Bottcher is now just one win away from advancing to his fifth Brier final since 2018.
Facing three Ontario stones on his last shot in the first end, Bottcher was forced to make a nose hit for one, giving Wild Card #1 the early lead. The following end would see McEwen attempt a split to sit two on his first shot, unfortunately, his rock would over-curl, forcing the skip to eventually a draw for a single.
Bottcher would be forced to draw for his second single point of the game in end number three, putting Wild Card #1 up 2-1. The forces would continue in the fourth, with McEwen making a tap for one, tying the game at two-apiece. In five, Bottcher was finally able to blank as he took hammer heading into the break.
Coming back in six, Wild Card #1 capitalized on the last shot advantage, with Bottcher scoring his first deuce of the game to lead 4-2. After a tap to lie two by Bottcher on his final shot in the seventh, McEwen would attempt an angle raise for two, but his shot stone would roll wide, giving Ontario a single.
Up by one with the hammer in eight, Bottcher would extend his lead to two points with a hit for one, handing the hammer back to McEwen with two ends to go.
Down by two with hammer in the ninth, McEwen would attempt a difficult runback to score two, instead, Ontario would end up giving Wild Card #1 a steal of one, with Bottcher leading by three heading into the tenth. Bottcher would then run McEwen out of stones in the tenth end, taking the win to head to the semifinals.
With the victory, Bottcher and Wild Card #1 now advance to Sunday afternoon's semifinals, where they will face the losers of Saturday night's 1v2 game between Matt Dunstone (Manitoba) and Brad Gushue (Canada).
"I really feel like in the last couple of days we've been ramping up, playing great," Bottcher said after Saturday's victory. "[We need to] keep that up, hopefully, play a good couple of games tomorrow and we'll see how we do."
Meanwhile, for Mike McEwen, today's loss brings his rink's season to an end, as they finish the 2023 Tim Horton's Brier in fourth place. "They put on a hitting clinic, not too often you see a team convert that many runs and doubles," McEwen said of Bottcher's performance in the 3v4 contest.
"We weren't far from hanging in there... I'm proud of us, we let it all hang out there and played well. [There's] nothing to be ashamed of."
For McEwen, while today's loss is certainly a disappointment, the Team Ontario skip was quick to put things into perspective, especially after the rink had a difficult start to the season back in the fall. "We pretty much wrote ourselves off and everybody else wrote us off and here we are [in] the final four."
The 2023 Tim Horton's Brier continues Saturday evening at the Budweiser Gardens in London, with the 1v2 page-playoff game set for 7:00 p.m., with the winners advancing to the championship final.
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