Team Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher, in just his fourth appearance at the Tim Hortons Brier, knows what it takes to contend for a national men’s championship.
Bottcher’s Edmonton-based rink has finished runners-up at the last two consecutive Briers. In 2018, the foursome lost to defending champion Brad Gushue, and last year in Brandon, Manitoba they fell to Kevin Koe.
Here in Kingston, the squad has been on fire, winning all seven games of the Round Robin portion of the tournament.
While most young skips would be happy just being in contention at a national championship, for Bottcher’s team, the stakes are much higher. They all know what it feels like to come so close, but walk away empty handed.
This week in Kingston, Team Alberta has their sights set on Sunday’s championship game, but to get there, they must play their very best against some of the top teams in the country. Only then will they be able to return to the finals and look to settle their unfinished businesses.
If the Round Robin is any indication of Bottcher’s chances, things look promising for the 28-year-old. But as much as the team hopes to win their first Brier title, they have not let that ambition get in the way of playing solidly all week.
While a team that has lost the last two championship finals might enter the event with a desire for redemption, Bottcher acknowledges the need to move beyond that mindset.
“You’ve got to completely forget about that, it really doesn’t matter,” Bottcher said. “If anything, it’s just some added experience at the end of the week.”
After the first seven games of the tournament, Team Alberta heads into the Championship Round with a record of 7-0, the best in the field. However, the skip acknowledges that things are far from certain at this point, and that anything can happen over the next two days.
“[We’re] going to be playing four really good teams, that are already playing a great week. We’re going to have to keep playing well, otherwise these teams are going to catch us,” said Bottcher of the team’s success heading into the next round.
On Thursday, Mar. 5, 2020, Bottcher will have a busy day; in the afternoon Alberta faces Matt Dunstone’s Saskatchewan rink, following which they will face Kevin Koe and Team Canada in the evening. Both rinks will be eager to hand Alberta their first loss of the tournament.
The Championship Round continues on Friday with two draws, before the Page Playoffs get underway Saturday.