Fans in the Parksville Curling Club’s arena bleachers look on as Victoria’s Jason Montgomery, left, delivers a shot in his match against Jim Cotter of Vernon during the 2018 belairdirect B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Parksville Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. — J.R. Rardon photo

Defending champ moves into BC Men’s curling playoffs

Team Cotter ekes out two wins at Parksville Curling Club

Defending champions Team Cotter of Vernon became the first rink to punch a ticket to the semifinals while Team Medford of Cranbrook became the first casualty on Day 2 of the 2018 belairdirect B.C. Men’s Curling Championships at Parksville Curling Club Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.

Skip Jim Cotter overcame a four-point steal by Victoria’s Jason Montgomery in the second end of their afternoon match to recover for a 9-7 win. Team Cotter returned in Thursday’s evening draw and rode a tiebreaking point in the 10th and final end to edge Team Geall of Kelowna, 7-6.

“Every game in this event is critical, and it was no different in that game” Cotter said after his win over Montgomery in what turned into a see-saw match. “We had to come out tough, and we battled back. It was a good character win for us.”

In the evening match against third-seeded Sean Geall, Cotter and rinkmates Catlin Schneider, Tyrel Griffith and Rick Sawatsky forged a 6-2 lead on the strength of a four-point fifth end. But Geall and teammates Jeffrey Richard, Andrew Nerpin and David Harper rode the hammer to a single point in the sixth, then stole points over the next three ends to give Cotter the hammer in the 10th end of a 6-6 match.

The wins gave Cotter (3-0) the top spot in the A Event and clinched the team a berth in the four-team Page Playoff that begins Saturday, Feb. 3. The other three playoff entries will be decided in Friday’s draws, scheduled for 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The tournament is being played in a converted hockey arena in the heart of Parksville’s downtown Community Park, the only dedicated arena curling club in B.C., according to club president Ron Boag.

It has hosted eight provincial championships since 2009, including back-to-back B.C. Men’s Championship events in 2012-13.

“Parksville is one of our go-to communities for provincial events,” said Paul Addison, CurlBC chair. “You look at their wall and they’ve got seven other provincial plaques up there because, first of all, they have an unbelievable cadre of volunteers. But also, the facility itself is very valuable. I think people underestimate it, being an arena. But when you think of it, all the (curling) nationals are in arenas, too.”

More than 200 fans looked on from the arena bleachers, while approximately 50 additional spectators watched from a new, two-tiered viewing platform in the lobby, which is equipped with close-circuit TV monitors that provide overhead views of each circle on the ice.

The highlight match in Friday’s 9 a.m. draw will pit Geall (2-1) and Victoria’s Glen Jackson (3-1), with the winner moving into the 2 p.m. B Event final. Wes Craig (2-2), the third entry from Victoria Curling Centre, remains in the hunt for a playoff spot in the C Event, as is Montgomery (2-2), who followed his loss to Cotter with another heartbreaker against Brent Pierce of Royal City Curling Club in New Westminster.

Montgomery led early, but needed a one-point pickup in the 10th to force an extra end. Pierce, however, turned his hammer into a two-point 11th for an 8-6 win. Pierce will face Dean Joanisse of Golden Ears Winter Club in the other B semifinal at 9 a.m.

Penticton’s Wylie Eden (1-2), Vernon’s Mark Longworth (0-2) and Kelowna’s Chris Baier (0-2) were still in the hunt for a playoff berth at the end of play Thursday. But Longworth and Baier will square off in Friday morning’s draw, with the loser bowing out.

Medford dropped his third straight game to open the tournament in Thursday’s 2 p.m. draw and was eliminated from the triple-knockout tourney.

To follow results, visit curlbc.ca//web/Comp?compid=2699.

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Jay Wakefield, left, and John Cullen of the Dean Joanisse Golden Ears Winter Club rink sweep during their contest with Kelowna’s Sean Geall during the 2018 belairdirect B.C. Men’s Curling Championships in Parksville Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. — J.R. Rardon photo

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