SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — John Morris and his Vernon curling team took down Calgary’s Kevin Koe 8-2 in six ends during Draw 12 Friday to advance to the $100,000 Boost National playoffs.
Morris shook off an opening round-robin loss to Toronto’s John Epping to finish the preliminary stage winning three consecutive games to reach the quarterfinals.
“We had a tough one against Epping,” said Morris, a Calgary firefighter. “We played well and Epping stood on his head. We’ve started playing like we could and put ourselves in a good position. Now we’ll have a nice eat and see what happens when all the dust settles here tonight to see who we’re playing.”
Morris has Jim Cotter throwing skip rocks and a front end of Rick Sawatsky and Ty Griffith, both of Kelowna.
Ahead by one, Morris capitalized riding the steal train swiping two in the fourth when Koe crashed on his own guard. Koe continued to struggle and gave up another pair in five as his last hit and rolled out heavy. One more stolen single in six for Morris brought out the handshakes.
“Koe just struggled a bit but it was a pretty well-played game other than that. He missed a few more shots than he usually does and our team was solid,” said Morris. “That was a really good effort from us. We’ve started to pick it up, the ice has been really good this Slam, and we’ve been playing well so we’re trying to carry that momentum into playoffs. Now we’ve really got to turn it up.”
Koe also qualified with a 3-1 record and will play Niklas Edin of Sweden in the quarterfinals.
Elsewhere, Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers cruised through at 4-0 into the playoffs. The recent Canada Cup winner rode a three-ender in the seventh to win 7-3 over Charley Thomas (2-2) and his team from Edmonton.
Peter de Cruz of Switzerland stole three in the extra end to beat Epping 8-5.
Epping needed to hit and stay in the eighth to win, but rolled out to blank. De Cruz stole in the extra when Epping’s last picked. Both teams stay in with 2-2 records.
Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock (1-3) stole one in the eighth to defeat hometown hero Brad Jacobs 5-4 after the reigning Olympic champ missed the hit with his last coming home. Jacobs will play in a tiebreaker with a 2-2 record.
Edin scored two sets of deuces and a three-ender to trump American John Shuster 7-2. The WFG Masters and Tour Challenge champ Edin stays in the mix levelling his record to 2-2. Shuster heads home at 0-4.
Epping meets Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in the evening tiebreaker draw alongside Jacobs against de Cruz. Thomas and Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher will play in a tiebreaker Saturday morning.
IN THE HACK: The Boost National is the third event and second major of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season…Round-robin action resumed Friday at 4 p.m. PDT with television coverage on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific …The Boost National runs through to Sunday afternoon at the Essar Centre. Boost National is the third event and second major of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.