The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

Curling Canada – LEDUC, Alta. — Brendan Bottcher continues to hold the hottest hand in curling as the 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Pioneer, kicked off Wednesday morning.

Bottcher and his Edmonton crew, fresh off a World Curling Tour win in Penticton, B.C., demolished 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 10-4 in the kickoff draw of the 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup.

In other Draw 1 games, Team Casey Scheidegger, with fill-in skip Cheryl Bernard (Lethbridge, Alta.) upended Jennifer Jones (Winnipeg) 8-6, Kevin Koe (Calgary) edged John Epping (Toronto) 8-7, and Rachel Homan (Ottawa) beat Robyn Silvernagle (North Battleford, Sask.) 9-5.

Playing in his second Home Hardware Canada Cup, Bottcher arrived in Leduc riding a five-game winning streak with momentum on his team’s side.

“We’re playing well,” said Bottcher, after the teams’s eight-end win. “We didn’t play a lot early. The first couple of events we were just trying to get back in peak form. Certainly, the last little bit feels like we’re there. It’s good.”

Bottcher is aiming to improve on his tiebreaker loss to Koe in his Home Hardware Canada Cup debut last year in Estevan, Sask. With the big prize being a berth into the 2021 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings (the event that will decide Canada’s four-player teams for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing), getting off to a strong start is just what Bottcher had in mind.

“Any time you can beat those top teams, you take it,” said Bottcher. “It’s going to be a long week, so if you can get ahead a little on the scoresheet a little early, it certainly helps take some of the pressure off.”

Bottcher manufactured his win with a couple of big ends – scoring three in the fourth and adding four in the sixth.

“Brad missed more than they usually miss and we capitalized,” said Bottcher. “I really think the four in six, they were going real hard and we were in good position. They knew they had to come at us pretty good and we made a lot of good shots in a row.”

Trying not to get the importance of this event get to him too early, Bottcher is taking a come-as-it-goes attitude toward the buildup to the weekend.

“Early, it’s just like any other event,” Bottcher said. “At least for now. Once you get down to the end and it’s a bit more tangible, you realize what’s on the line. For now, it feels like another one of the top events. We’re playing the same teams we play most weekends.”

Meanwhile, Team Scheidegger’s win over two-time defending champ Jones was paved with a second-end steal, spotting the Lethbridge rink a 3-0 lead it never relinquished.

With Casey Scheidegger out of the lineup (she gave birth to her second son, eight-pound, 14-ounce Ryker, on Monday), the match featured a battle of former Olympians at skip.

At the end, 2010 Olympic silver-medallist Bernard outduelled 2014 gold-medallist Jones.

“It was good, but as I’m learning in the five-rock rule, it’s (3-0) not much of a lead,” said Bernard.

The 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws today at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times MST).

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule

The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.

For ticket information, as well as team lineups and the full event draw for the 2018 Home Hardware Canada Cup, go to www.curling.ca/2019canadacup/

The French version of this story will be posted as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019canadacup/?lang=fr