Ep­ping in Home Hard­ware fi­nal; now ranked No. 1 in the coun­try

Peter­bor­ough curler will be part of Team Canada at Con­ti­nen­tal Cup

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - AL CAMERON

LE­DUC, Alta. — Peter­bor­ough’s John Ep­ping notched a 12-4 semi­fi­nal vic­tory over Edmonton’s Bren­dan Bottcher at the 2019 Home Hard­ware Canada Cup on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Less than 24 hours af­ter los­ing 7-3 to Bottcher in the event’s fi­nal round-robin game, Ep­ping’s win put his team of viceskip Ryan Fry, se­cond Mat Camm and lead Brent Laing into Sun­day’s 7 p.m. men’s fi­nal against Cal­gary’s Kevin Koe.

“Kevin Koe is such a big-game player,” said Ep­ping, whose team was edged 8-7 by Koe in the open­ing draw on Wed­nes­day. “This is a Season of Cham­pi­ons event and he al­ways seems to show up. He’s been play­ing great this week and we’ll have to be re­ally sharp tomorrow night.”

Ep­ping took ad­van­tage of a shaky start by Bottcher that helped Ep­ping build up an 8-1 lead af­ter four ends.

Ep­ping scored a pair of backto-back four-en­ders when Bottcher’s last-rock draws fell short of the house in the third and fourth ends.

“We played a pretty solid game today,” said Ep­ping. “Once we got up three, then seven, we were able to hit away. Over­all, a good per­for­mance day for us.”

The game had an­other bizarre mo­ment af­ter Bottcher opened up the scor­ing with a sin­gle when he failed to roll out on a blank at­tempt. Bottcher viceskip Dar­ren Mould­ing’s slider needed re­pair, forc­ing a lengthy time­out dur­ing the break.

This will be Ep­ping’s first shot at a Home Hard­ware Canada Cup ti­tle while Koe is look­ing to win his third (2008 as vice-skip for Blake Mac­Don­ald, 2015 as skip).

Even be­fore the first rock was thrown in the semi­fi­nal, Ep­ping’s team was en­sured it would come out of this week­end as the high­est-ranked team in the Cana­dian Team Rank­ing Sys­tem. Ep­ping’s team qual­i­fies as a mem­ber of Team Canada at the 2020 OK Tire & BKT Tires Con­ti­nen­tal Cup Jan. 9-12 in Lon­don, Ont.

“That’s ex­cit­ing,” said Ep­ping. “That’s one thing we re­al­ized last night and we were pretty pumped af­ter that. To be in some­thing like that, that I’ve never been in­volved with is ex­cit­ing. It’s some­thing new.”

Bottcher, whose team had won 11 of its pre­vi­ous 12 starts in­clud­ing a World Curl­ing Tour win in Pen­tic­ton, B.C., last week­end, will have to be con­tent with win­ning $15,000 for his brief semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance. His only loss dur­ing that streak was to Koe.

“Some­times, de­spite all the plan­ning and all the prepa­ra­tion, it doesn’t quite work,” said Bottcher. “That’s sorta how it felt early for us. We never quite got into it and it def­i­nitely showed. We just got fooled a lit­tle all around. In prac­tice, it (the ice) was right up to speed and feel­ing great. It just felt a lit­tle crunchier and we came up a lit­tle light on those two draws.

“The big­gest thing to take away for us is an­other great week. We played well against the top teams all week. This is the kind of week we con­tinue play­ing for, so I’m re­ally proud of the guys for that.”

The re­sult of Sun­day’s fi­nal was not avail­able by press time.

Al Cameron writes for Curl­ing Canada.

MICHAEL BURNS/SPECIAL TO THE EX­AM­INER

Peter­bor­ough's John Ep­ping ad­vanced to his first Home Hard­ware Canada Cup fi­nal with a 12-4 semi­fi­nal win over Bren­dan Bottcher in Le­duc, Al­berta on Satur­day.

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