Jim Cotter

Jim Cotter jumped on early mistakes by his opponent to win the Page 1-2 game at the 2018 belairdirect BC Men’s Curling Championship presented by Berwick Retirement Homes on Saturday at the Parksville Curling Club.

Cotter struck for a three in the first end and took advantage of a Sean Geall miss on a takeout in the second for a steal and a 4-0 lead in an eventual 6-2 victory in eight ends.

Cotter, of Vernon, will now have a chance to win his fifth straight provincial crown as he and his crew of third Catlin Schneider, second Tyrel Griffith and lead Rick Sawatsky advance straight to Sunday afternoon’s championship final at 4 p.m.

Geall, from Abbotsford, and his Kelowna Curling Club rink consisting of third Jeff Richard, second Andrew Nerpin and lead David Harper drop down to the semi-final Sunday at 11 a.m. against the winner of Saturday night’s Page 3-4 game between Dean Joanisse of the Golden Ears Winter Club and Victoria’s Jason Montgomery.

“That was definitely our best game so far and that’s what we want to do, keep improving every single game,” said Cotter. “We knew we had to bring our best. All four of us did that and it was a good result.”

Cotter got off to a great start after he re-jigged three rocks in front of the house with his first stone in the first end, eliminating a pair of Geall stones and squirting his into the four foot. Two of Cotter’s rocks also sat in the back eight-foot, while Geall had shot rock.

Geall attempted a hit and flop on Cotter’s stone in the four-foot, but it rolled too far setting up a double for three.

In the second, Geall flashed on a takeout for the steal of one and an early hole, that he never managed to climb out of.

A Cotter run-back in the third end and a double takeout in the fourth squashed a pair of Geall opportunities. Then Geall’s attempted run-back for two in the fifth jammed and he settled for one in the fifth to fall behind 4-1 at the break.

“Ty made some great double peels there and we got a couple of blank ends and forced them, that was the key,” said Cotter. “Our goal was to put ourselves in this position and keep playing well and maybe pick it up a little bit more.”

Yet another Cotter run-back in the sixth created a blank and the veteran skip added two more points in the seventh end on a hit and stick. Geall was forced into one in the eighth end and the teams shook hands.

“We didn’t even play that badly in the first end. I rolled into a tough spot and what do you do? It was a pretty simple double for three,” said Geall. “They read the angles and put us into a tough spot. I had to roll into one-square-foot of ice to not leave him a hit for three. We didn’t quite make it there and we got behind the 8-ball to start. It’s tough to get back sometimes.

“You can’t dwell on it. I don’t think we played that bad at all. Jimmy made double after double after double to get himself out of trouble,” added Geall.

Cotter curled 92 per cent in the game and Griffith rolled a similar number. As a team, the Cotter crew was 86 per cent compared to 79 for Geall’s squad. Geall’s 84 per cent was best on his team.

Cotter, who had defeated Geall 7-6 in the A-event final on Thursday night, using a four-ender in the fifth to secure a 6-1 advantage in that one – now attempts to win his fifth straight B.C. men’s title and eighth overall.

“The boys came out hot and we felt good out there. It was nice to have a little break (Friday) and just hang out. We came out and played hungry today,” said Schneider, who curled 88 per cent at third for Cotter. “This feels good. You don’t have to play any more games than you have to and we get the hammer in the final, so hopefully we can have the same result Sunday.”