A heavyweight duel playing out on Okotoks ice saw the reigning provincial champion land the final shot.
The Brendan Bottcher rink picked up two points in the eighth and final end to edge Kevin Koe 6-5 to take home the ATB Okotoks Classic, Sunday afternoon at the Okotoks Curling Club.
"We've had a lot of battles against Koe during the last few years and a lot of the games come right down to the very end," Bottcher said. "It wasn't very surprising where we found ourselves and more often than not it seems like the team with hammer in the eighth end finds a way to pull it out.
"Luckily that was us today."
The seesaw championship match saw the teams exchange singles in the first and third ends with Koe getting a deuce in the fourth and Bottcher countering with two of his own on a hit and stick for two in the fifth. Bottcher picked up a key steal of one in the sixth end on a rare miss from Koe.
The decorated skip bounced back with surgical precision in the seventh end, throwing his best fastball for a hit and roll for two to take the 5-4 advantage heading into the final end.
With every rock in play and a crowded house, Bottcher was sitting three yellow shot rocks on skip stones and forced Koe to attempt a knockout blow with his final shot. Koe’s red rock bounced millimetres past the sitting yellow stones near the button ending proceedings in dramatic fashion.
"We made seven perfect shots, I would say, in a row to really put the pressure on them and they were really going hard at us too, they were trying to steal and steal the game," Bottcher said. "We were going hard, they were going hard, that's why there were so many rocks in play.
"We did have a lot of them in there so he would have had to make a pretty amazing shot there at the end - but it's Koe and you couldn't pick a better guy to make a shot like that.
"We were certainly not sure we had won yet."
Bottcher, with third Darren Moulding, second Bradley Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin, went undefeated during the three-day competition.
The three-time provincial champions were 3-0 to qualify through the A-event and got past Nanton’s Jeremy Harty 8-4 in the semifinal.
Koe, a two-time world champion and six-time Canadian titleholder, made quick work of Calgary’s Charley Thomas rink with a 6-0 score through just three ends in the other semifinal.
Team Harty, which features Okotoks’ Kyler Kleibrink at third and DeWinton’s Josh Kiist at second, qualified to the playoffs through the C-event, knocking off Dale Goehring to punch its ticket to the next round. The ATB Banff Classic champions edged Karsten Sturmay in the quarterfinal before seeing its run end against Bottcher.
Turner Valley’s Jacob Libbus finished with a 1-3 record in Okotoks, losing out to Glen Kennedy in the C-event.
"I would give huge props to the Okotoks Curling Club," Bottcher said. "All of us curlers are just looking for events to play in this year, it's harder than most to make all that happen, and they really came through, they're hosting three events here back-to-back-to-back to try and get a lot of people down. I think it's awesome for the town, in general, it's a little bit of business from bringing us all down.
"And that's actually a curling club I had never played in before this year so it was nice to get down there. I hope next year, whether or not we're in COVID, they find a way to host the 'spiel again."
The elite curling action continues later this week at the Okotoks Curling Club with the Alberta Women’s Tour event featuring the best female teams in the country, including Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan and reigning Canadian Scotties champion Kerri Einarson.
The opening draw is on Nov. 12 with the action continuing into Nov. 15.
The event will be live-streamed on the Okotoks Curling Club’s YouTube channel.
For more information go to okotokscurling.com.