Team B.C.’s Rick Sawatsky (Vernon/Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon) scored an impressive 7-4 win over Manitoba Thursday morning, March 11, at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary. (File photo)

Team B.C.’s Rick Sawatsky (Vernon/Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon) scored an impressive 7-4 win over Manitoba Thursday morning, March 11, at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary. (File photo)

B.C. hands Manitoba second-straight Brier loss

Team Laycock rolls to 7-4 win over Jason Gunnlaugson Thursday, March 11

Officially eliminated from championship round contention, Team B.C. can still mess with those looking to advance at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship in Calgary.

Team Laycock rolled to its second straight win Thursday, March 11, a convincing 7-4 decision over Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson, who has lost two in a row after opening with five consecutive victories. B.C., whose rink includes skip Steve Laycock of Saskatoon, Jim Cotter of Vernon throwing fourth rocks, and the Kelowna front-end duo of lead Rick Sawatsky and second Andrew Nerpin, are now 3-4 with one preliminary round game remaining.

Laycock took control of the match by scoring three in the fourth end for a 4-2 lead. The teams exchanged single points over the next four ends, blanked the eighth, and Laycock scored one with the final rock in nine for a 6-4 lead. He stole a single point in 10 for the victory.

The loss dropped Gunnlaugson out of first place in Pool A at 5-2, after Wayne Middaugh’s Ontario Wild Card rink snapped Northern Ontario’s four-game winning streak with an 8-6 decision to improve to 6-1, clinching a spot in Friday’s championship round. Brad Jacobs fell to 5-3.

Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher, loser of the last three Brier finals, upped his record to 5-2 with an 11-2 win over winless Dustin Mikkelsen of the Yukon (0-7).

Mike McEwen’s Manitoba Wild Card quartet improved to 3-4 with a 12-3 romp over Gregory Skauge of the Northwest Territories (1-6).

Laycock will play Bottcher at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Thursday. A B.C. victory would drop Bottcher to 5-3, same as Jacobs, and New Brunswick’s James Grattan can improve to 5-3 with a final draw win over the Northwest Territories.

The top four rinks from Pool A meet the top 4 from Pool B Friday, taking their round-robin records into play. The first-place team after play Friday gets a bye to Sunday’s championship, while the second- and third-place teams would meet in a semifinal Sunday.

Going into the final preliminary round game Thursday afternoon. Calgary Wild Card entry Kevin Koe sat atop the standings at 6-1. Defending Brier champ Brad Gushue’s Team Canada rink from Newfoundland, John Epping of Ontario and Matt Dunstone of Saskatchewan were tied at 5-2, while Nova Scotia’s Team Murphy and Quebec’s Michael Fournier were 4-3.

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roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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