Kelowna’s Rick Sawatsky (right) and Tyrel Griffith at the Brier this week in St. John’s with the B.C. champion John Morris-Jim Cotter rink. -Image credit: Curl BC

Okanagan rink chases Brier title on The Rock

Kelowna-Vernon foursome makes repeat appearance at Canadian men’s curling finals

Rick Sawatsky hopes his seventh time is a charm.

The Kelowna curler will be throwing lead rocks for the Okanagan-based John Morris foursome at the 2017 Brier beginning Saturday in St. John’s, N.L.

Sawatsky, like Vernon’s Jim Cotter, will be making his seventh appearance at the Canadian men’s curling championship. Second Tyrel Griffith, from Kelowna, will be playing at the Brier for the fifth time.

“The feeling never gets old,” said Sawatsky, who has been a teammate of Cotter’s for all seven B.C. titles. “To be able to represent the province is a privilege and an honour. I know after we won B.C., Jim (Cotter) and I smiled and just appreciated the fact that we get to go back.

“It’s exciting to be part of it again, and this time we’re going to go and try make the most of it.”

The last time the Kelowna-Vernon curlers teamed up with Morris, the B.C. champs came agonizingly close to a Brier title, losing the 2014 Canadian final in Kamloops to Kevin Koe.

Three years later, with Morris skipping and Cotter again throwing last rocks, the Kelowna-Vernon crew has had a solid season on the World Curling Tour, winning one event, finishing second in another and qualifying in several more.

After a few weeks to get reacquainted early in the season, Sawatsky said the Morris-Cotter rink has hit its stride.

“Getting back after a hiatus with John, it took a little time for us to come together,” Sawatsky said. “But once we got comfortable again, everything fell into place pretty well. I think we got stronger with each event we played and hopefully that’s something we can carry with us into (St. John’s).”

This year’s Brier, as is often the case, is a who’s who of Canadian men’s curling. Defending national champion Kevin Koe, ex-Brier champs Brad Jacobs and Glenn Howard, former Olympic gold medalist and hometown favourite Brad Gushue, and Manitoba’s Mike McEwen are all included in the field. The Morris-Cotter rink has beaten each one of those teams at least once during the season.

As for playing for a Brier championship on The Rock, Sawatsky said the B.C. champs are looking forward to the experience.

“I think it’s going to be pretty fun,” Sawatsky said. “We were (in Newfoundland) last year for a Slam event, the fans were amazing and the atmosphere was top notch. I expect the same kind of excitement this time around.”

Still, all hype and pomp of a Brier aside, Sawatsky said his team is in Newfoundland this week with one goal in mind.

“We can just really need to focus on what we can control,” he said. “The four of us need to go out and have a good week, get to the final and see of we can win it this time. We think we’ve got the game and steam do it…it’s matter of us playing like we we’re capable of.”

The B.C. champs will open the 2017 Brier on Saturday against Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs.

Just Posted

Plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

Mellalieu running for Greens again in Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Robert Mellalieu ran for federal Green Party in 2015 election and provincial Greens in 2017

Where is your water before you drink it?

A new water facility official opens in Lake Country

Lake Country celebrates clean water project completion

New raw water reservoir site means safe drinking water for residents

Multiple crashes slow traffic on Coquihalla south of Kamloops

Drivers are expected to be stuck for up to 90 minutes

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Man accused of assault at South Okanagan beach gets bail

Thomas Brayden Kruger-Allen was granted bail at the Penticton provincial courthouse on Monday

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Most Read