John Morris and his Vernon, B.C., rink won the men’s A-side qualifying game of the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Pre-Trials, shading Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher 4-3. Morris, as B.C. skip, left, and vice skip Jim Cotter share a laugh in draw 12 action against Newfoundland and Labrador at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Brendan Bottcher clinches final men’s berth into the Roar of the Rings

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Brendan Bottcher and his Edmonton rink have earned their chance to go for an Olympic berth.

Bottcher rolled to a 9-5 win over Glenn Howard on Sunday in the men’s B-side final of the 2017 Road to the Roar pre-trials.

The win clinched the final men’s spot in the Roar of the Rings next month in Ottawa, where Canada’s four-player curling teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea will be decided.

“Amazing,” said the 25-year-old Bottcher.

“We came into this game and tried to lower our expectations a little bit, and just go out there and play well. That was the goal. But when you win, and now you’re in the Trials and all that comes with it, it’s huge.”

Bottcher is backed up by third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin.

After holding Howard, from Tiny, Ont., to a single in the first, it was Bottcher’s team that controlled much of the remainder of the draw, with the exception of the eighth end when Howard was able to steal a point to go up 5-4.

But Bottcher came straight back to retake the lead with two in the ninth, and put the game away with a steal of three in the 10th when Howard couldn’t pull off a long raise to salvage a single point and force an extra end.

“It’s huge for all of us to get (to the Trials), to experience it, and we’re coming in as the huge underdogs, which I think frees us up a little bit to just go out there and play well again,” said Bottcher. “There’s zero expectation of how we’re going to do there. So I’m just looking forward to being there, enjoying it all and hopefully getting all the experience we can.”

Bottcher joins a men’s field that includes fellow Road to the Roar qualifier John Morris of Vernon, B.C., who beat Bottcher in the A-side final on Sunday morning.

The men’s field in Ottawa will be rounded out by reigning Brier and world men’s champion Brad Gushue of St John’s, N.L., 2014 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., two-time world champ Kevin Koe of Calgary, Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, Toronto’s John Epping, and Winnipeg teams skipped by Mike McEwen and Reid Carruthers.

The women’s side features Road the Roar qualifiers Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., and Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont., along with current Scotties Tournament of Hearts and world women’s champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa, 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot, Toronto’s Alli Flaxey, Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., and Edmonton’s Val Sweeting.

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