The Jim Cotter rink needed a win over Saskatchewan in the final draw of the Brier on Friday morning in Calgary.
Saskatoon’s Steven Laycock refused to cooperate.
Saskatchewan defeated the B.C. champs 4-2 to secure one of four playoff spots with a 7-4 record. The loss relegated Cotter, Ryan Kuhn, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky to a 5-6 record and a tie for seventh out of 12 teams.
“They definitely pushed us all the way,” Laycock said of the Cotter rink. “If I hadn’t played my A game we wouldn’t have had a hope. We played hard all week to get ourselves in that position and not have to worry about other sheets.”
With the score 1-0 Saskatchewan, the key end came in the fifth when the teams had 11 rocks in a jagged line from the front of the house to the back. B.C. was counting two until Laycock drew the edge of the button as second shot.
Cotter’s draw attempt just rubbed a stone in the eight-foot and Laycock then used a gentle double tap back to move himself to shot.
Cotter’s final rock draw attempt came up light, letting Laycock steal the pivotal single for a 2-0 lead.
“Both teams were just kind of jockeying for position on the left-hand side of the sheet,” explained Laycock, who finished 6-5 last year and just missed the playoffs.
“Jim bounced off on his and we made a nice little tap-up to get shot rock. He was playing a draw on the swingy side and I think both teams kind of made a lot of shots from there later in the game but that time neither team really knew how swingy it was and he crashed on the top eight one.”
“We just slivered the top one,” Cotter said of his first shot. “If we get that one in there, we’re sitting two and in great shape. That’s just the way it goes. We had to come back, get a deuce and we just weren’t able to manufacture that.”
They tried in the 10th but in the end left Laycock the runback take-out, the type of shot he and his teammates had executed nearly perfectly a number times in the game.
“I wasn’t expecting it would be an easy one because early in the end they had the corner they were using and later they had our two rocks, which were pretty advantageous to them,” Laycock said.
“I knew it would have to be either one where I blast off a freeze or make the runback. So we had options, I just had to execute a good shot.”
To the dismay of three other teams he made the shot.
A victory by the Cotter rink would have forced a four-way tie for fourth place, with B.C, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec all at 6-5.
Instead, Saskatchewan moves on to the 3-4 Page playoff game Friday night against Team Canada.
Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario and Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue will play in the 1-2 game.
It was an up and down week for the B.C. crew which got off to a 3-2 start, but then lost its next three games to Quebec, Team Canada and Manitoba, making their last three games must-win situations.
B.C. did bounce back with wins over the Territories and New Brunswick, before falling short against Saskatchewan.
It was Cotter and Sawatsky’s fifth appearance at the Canadian men’s curling championship, Griffith’s third, while Kuhn, a former world junior champ was there for the first time.