Brendan Bottchers bunch – no sucker of a team itself – so should feel pretty good about what happened in the first round on Friday of the season at Brier’s Battle of Alberta here in the Calgary Curling Bubble

The 8-7 triumph that comes with an extra ending is not just a feather in the cap, but has brought the Edmonton squad closer to a coveted playoff spot in the men’s national curling championship

“It’s always a good game to give your best against these guys,” said Alberta Bottcher after winning the afternoon over Calgary’s Koe and Wild Card 2. “We have had so many fights against them over the years It is so definitely nice it feels like we’re doing a little better here and playing a little better at what we should be doing

They had to face a team that won 7-1 in the round robin and – despite losing to Alberta – are in pretty good shape to make it through to Sunday’s playoffs at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Center

In this Brier, with its revised rules for 18 teams traveling due to COVID, the top four teams from each preliminary pool have broken their records in the championship pool games, which started on Friday and will last through Saturday

With this decision in the Battle of Alberta, both teams have recorded seven victories, which flowed into the action on Friday evening, which also included Alberta vs. Saskatchewan (6-3) and Wild Card 2 vs. Northern Ontario (6-3)

Only the wild card 3, skipped by Wayne Middaugh, held a better record before the P. Schedule – at 8-1 – as Koe and Bottcher, while the five other championship pool rinks all weighed in at 6-3

“For us it just adds up to the winnings,” said Darren Molding, third in Alberta. “We know we need a lot of them We want to find ourselves somewhere in the playoff picture So it’s good to hurt other teams – and if you win games, so do you

Even so, after the game it was easy to see how the decision about Koe & Co is as big as they come in here in this Brier

It’s tremendous for Alberta in the overall standings and for the trust of the Saville Community Sports Center


They’ll also have a leg up mentally when they meet again in the playoff round on Sunday

“It’s absolutely a rivalry,” Molding said, “but there’s also a lot of respect between the two teams. We really love to play against them and I think they’d say the same thing”

They said it with their game, with Wild Card 2 rolling at 89% while Alberta shot 87%

It was fantastic early on to hit the jumps with the hammer to get off the ground early – Alberta scored four on the second end and Wild Card 2 three on the third thanks to the brilliant bottcher finish, when Koe chopped off his own stone to collect three

After picking one out of seven, the Edmonton gang stole one out of nine when Koe couldn’t quite complete the double takeout with the final stone

But the cool and collected Calgary jump drew teams in even in the tenth with the hammer, scoring two with just a slight abrasion from his own stone that kept him from getting three and winning

To end what was a close game all the way, it was 11th a knee knocker that came to Bottcher and delivered a tie on the button for the win

“Our games are always as you have just seen them – close and intense You’re only playing against some of the best in the world, “Molding said

Think of the Brier Battle of Alberta as a likely preview of Sunday – whether in the tiebreaker, semi-finals, or final – though no one is looking that far into the future while Friday’s game is still to come

“The weekend is still a long way off.We still have (two) good games – (two) tough games (against Ontario (12:30 p.m., TSN) and Canada (1830 o’clock) m, TSN) – and we have to win our share of it, otherwise we won’t play on the weekend and that’s what we really have to concentrate on now

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Brendan Bottcher

World news – CA – Bottcher defeats Koe in Brier’s round of 16 at the Battle of Alberta