Best of 2021: Bottcher makes amazing shot to send Alberta to Brier final
With the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials quickly approaching, TSN.ca will profile one men’s team and one women’s team each day before the first rocks fly on Nov. 20 at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Team Brendan Bottcher
Skip: Brendan Bottcher (Age 29)
Third: Darren Moulding (38)
Second: Bradley Thiessen (31)
Lead: Karrick Martin (32)
Alternate: Pat Janssen (34)
Coach: Don Bartlett (61)
Curling Club: Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton
Events: 5 (1 win)
CTRS Ranking: 5
Highlights: Team Bottcher has made a pair of semi-finals this season, losing to Team Kevin Koe at a Okotoks bonspiel and Olympic contender Bruce Mouat of Scotland at the Masters on the Grand Slam tour. They dropped another playoff decision to Mouat earlier this month in the quarterfinal at the National. Their lone event win this season came at the Americas Challenge where they defeated Mexico and Brazil to qualify Canada for the 2022 World Men's Curling Championship.
How They Got Here
Qualified for the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials via Curling Canada’s Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS).
Nov. 20 – Brad Gushue
Nov. 21 – Tanner Horgan
Nov. 22 – Brad Jacobs
Nov. 23 – Mike McEwen
Nov. 24 – Kevin Koe, Matt Dunstone
Nov. 25 – Jason Gunnlaugson
Nov. 26 – John Epping
Expert Analysis from TSN's Russ Howard
Team Bottcher will win the Trials if…
"Team Bottcher needs to be rested headed into the Trials. Brendan and Darren were absolutely exhausted going into the Word Championships last spring. This team has demonstrated in the last four Briers that they can handle any team."
Brendan Bottcher’s Edmonton-based rink qualified for their first Olympic Trials four years ago by beating curling legend Glenn Howard in the last game of the Pre-Trials.
Despite a slow 1-3 at the Olympic Trials in Ottawa, Team Bottcher finished just a game out of the playoffs at 4-4. They made plenty of noise as a team to be reckoned with going forward. Bottcher, who won the 2012 world junior championship, shot an impressive 81.1 per cent for the tournament.
Even at just 25, it was evident the cerebral shot-caller had what it took to skip a championship rink.
“All the top guys here knew we could give them a little bit of a scare, especially if we were on our game this week,” Bottcher told TSN.ca after his team was eliminated at the 2017 Trials. “So, I don’t think that was a huge shocker. The guys’ and the girls’ fields, it’s so tight. Number nine could easily get on a roll and win undefeated. So, everyone has to go out there every day and prepare.”
Last Four Years
Following the Ottawa Trials, Team Bottcher kept their lineup together and quickly become one of the best groups in the sport.
Bottcher and company have made an incredible four straight Brier finals, losing the first three before finally getting over the hump last year inside the Calgary bubble.
In 2018, in just their second Brier appearance, Team Bottcher put together a great week but ran into a Brad Gushue-led team that wasn’t going to be stopped from winning their second consecutive Tankard.
A year later, this time representing Team Wild Card after losing to Kevin Koe in Alberta playdowns, Bottcher and company once again qualified for the playoffs after going 8-3 through championship pool play. Two wins later, they had a championship final date against Koe, who hadn’t lost all week and wasn’t going to on that Sunday evening in Brandon. Koe scored a deuce with a dramatic last-stone winner to edge Bottcher 4-3, claiming his fourth career Tankard.
Despite the heartbreak at nationals, Bottcher was tearing it up on Tour, winning three straight Grand Slams to close out the 2018-19 campaign.
At the 2020 Brier in Kingston, Team Bottcher went 10-1 through the championship pool and hammered Matt Dunstone in the 1 vs. 2 game to book a third straight trip to the Brier final, this time against Gushue for a second time in three years. Bottcher shot just 71 per cent in the final compared to Gushue’s 97 per cent and lost 7-3.
This one may have hurt the most as third Darren Moulding was emotional after the game.
“I’m starting to get older. I don’t know how many times I’m going to be able to get back here,” said the then-37-year-old. “I’m just proud of the guys. I just wished it would have turned out different. I know we can play a lot better than that.”
One of Team Bottcher’s best attributes is their resiliency as they advanced to their fourth straight Brier final last year in Calgary, joining Randy Ferbey’s juggernaut of the early 2000s as the only teams to accomplish that feat.
This time they would not be stopped as they defeated Koe 4-2 in an anti-climatic affair.
"Losing in this game sucks, for lack of a better word," Bottcher told the media after the win. "It really sucks. It sucked the first time, it sucked the second time and it sucked just as much the third time.
"We all show it differently but (the win) just means so much to us and I think that was really on display here tonight when we closed it out."
Moulding said winning the Brier was a life-long dream accomplished.
"I don't remember life ever not dreaming and wanting this," Moulding said. "It's my whole life's work. It's kind of overwhelming actually. But this is what I always pictured, for sure."
At the world championship, Team Bottcher faced more adversity. After a two-loss day to RCF and Sweden, the foursome was in danger of missing the playoff which meant Canada would not automatically qualify for the Winter Olympics and would have to send a team to a last chance event in order to get.
However, they quickly steadied the ship and got into the top six to lock up Canada’s spot at the Olympics. Canada was eliminated by Scotland’s Bruce Mouat in the first playoff game.