Alberta’s Bottcher hands Wild Card Three’s Middaugh his first loss at Brier

Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher handed Wayne Middaugh’s Wild Card Three team its first loss at the Canadian men’s curling championship on Monday.

Bottcher, who has reached the Tim Hortons Brier in each of the last three years, earned a critical steal in the eighth end of the 5-3 victory. Middaugh was light with his final draw and then was forced to a single in the ninth.

Team Alberta skip Brendan Bottcher, left, directs his team as he plays Team Wild Card Three at the Brier in Calgary, Alta., Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Bottcher improved to 3-1 while Middaugh fell to 2-1 after eight draws of the preliminary round.

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READ MORE: ‘This is who I am’: Curling legend Wayne Middaugh returns to the Brier after devastating injury 

Middaugh is filling in at skip for Glenn Howard, who injured his ribs in a recent snowmobile crash. Howard is serving as the team fifth this week.

Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson (3-0) was the only unbeaten skip left in Pool A after an 8-5 victory over Wild Card One’s Mike McEwen (2-2).

In other afternoon games, British Columbia’s Steve Laycock dumped Yukon’s Dustin Mikkelsen 9-2 and New Brunswick’s James Grattan edged Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs 7-6 in an extra end.

New Brunswick and Alberta were tied in second place at 3-1. Wild Card One and Northern Ontario were 2-2 while B.C. improved to 1-2.

The Northwest Territories (0-3) and Yukon (0-4) remain winless.

Pool B teams will meet in Monday’s late draw at the WinSport Arena. Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone was to meet Canada’s Brad Gushue in a battle of 2-1 rinks.

READ MORE: Wild Card Two’s Koe beats Gushue 9-7 to hand defending champs first loss at the Brier 

Quebec’s Michael Fournier (3-1) was to play Nova Scotia’s Scott McDonald (2-2), Wild Card Two’s Kevin Koe (4-0) was to meet Nunavut’s Peter Mackey (0-3) and P.E.I.’s Eddie MacKenzie (0-3) was to face Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador (0-4).

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Koe was the only unbeaten team in the Pool B standings entering the late draw. Idle skip John Epping of Ontario was tied with Quebec at 3-1.

The preliminary round continues through Thursday night at Markin MacPhail Centre. The top four teams in each pool will advance to the two-day championship round.

The final is set for Sunday night. The winner will represent Canada at the world men’s curling championship next month at the same venue.

Watch below: (From Feb. 15, 2021) Kevin Maher has worked as a freelance television assistant in three sports bubbles: the NHL return-to-play bubble (69 days), the World Juniors bubble (24 days) and currently inside the curling bubble in Calgary.

Click to play video 'Alberta man currently inside 3rd sports bubble experience' Alberta man currently inside 3rd sports bubble experience

Alberta man currently inside 3rd sports bubble experience – Feb 15, 2021

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