Lacombe’s Darren Moudling and Team Brendan Bottcher might very well subscribe to their own version of the phrase third time’s a charm.
It was the fourth time lucky for that crew in Calgary at the 2021 Brier, Canada’s Men’s National Curling Championship.
After three straight trips and losses in the Brier final, the Bottcher rink finally got the monkey off their back with a win over Alberta rival Kevin Koe Sunday.
“It’s a lifetime of work coming to fruition. It’s a dream that I’ve had since I can remember,” said Moulding, the 38-year-old ice maker in Lacombe.
“I don’t remember ever not dreaming or wanting this. My whole life’s work – it’s overwhelming actually. It’s what I always pictured for sure.”
It was a busy Sunday for the Bottcher rink, as they narrowly edged Saskatchewan 6-5 in the semifinal, picking up a deuce on an incredibly difficult angle raise, with hammer in the 10th end to earn a spot in the final against Koe.
The final was a nail-biter, with both skips curling above 95 per cent for the majority of the game.
Koe blinked first, missing a double takeout that allowed Alberta to score three in the seventh. The five-time Brier champ hit a great shot with hammer in the eighth to get his side within one.
Bottcher grabbed a single in the ninth for a 4-2 lead. With Hammer in the 10th, Koe had no shot for two – they shook hands with the Bottcher rink, handing them their first Brier title.
“When you play Kevin Koe, I never think the game is won until they look at me and shake my hand. They’re so good and they always find a way to break your heart,” said Moulding, who curled 87 per cent at the 10-day event.
“I was just trying to throw every shot as good as I can. I thought at the end of the day if it resulted in a win, I was good with it. Until we hit and stuck and I looked and we had four rocks in there and I didn’t see any way to get them out. That was when I knew we won.”
Underneath that jubilation, Moulding recalled the devastation of all three final losses and how long a road he thought it might be to get back to the final again.
“When we lost those three years, especially last year, you wonder – a lot of people never get to the Brier final. I had three cracks at it and didn’t win it. Am I going to get another chance? Is my body going to allow me?” he pondered.
“Those are all things that go through my mind. I’m going to play as long as I can. I was really upset after we lost last year.”
The group only played in three tour events during the 2020-21 curling season and as the defending champions, were selected to represent Alberta at this year’s Brier. Moudling said in what was an incredibly difficult year, the Brier was a shining light.
“It’s just been a crazy year and I’ve really been focused on balance in my life and just being a better teammate and player. Just getting that much better at everything so we can win. I feel like I’ve got a few more years left,” he said.
“You don’t know how long you have – life is fragile. These times are precious and I’m thankful every time we play.”
There will be another chance to add more hardware this week, as Moulding joins Joanne Courtney at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship, which starts Thursday.
Moulding will also represent Alberta and Canada in the bubble again next month at the World Men’s Curling Championship. They’ll take place from April 3-11 at the MacPhail Centre, the same ice that Alberta won the national championship on.
He said he’s over the moon at the chance to represent the country.
“This will be my first time wearing the maple leaf. I’m proud to be Canadian and I’m going to be really proud to represent our country,” he said.
“It’s truly an honour and a dream come true. I’ll do my best to make our country proud.”