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Late game heroics lifts Cotter to win

Jim Cotter pulled off a comeback for the ages Thursday night to remain in contention for a playoff berth at the Grand Slam of Curling/Canadian Open at Prospera Place.

Cotter trailed Jake Higgs of Ontario 5-1 through five ends and admittedly the team was not playing very well.

Out of nowhere with nothing in the house, Cotter made his last four rocks count to draw even at 5-5.

The Kelowna/Vernon squad went on to steal a pair in the seventh for a 7-6 win and, more importantly, a 2-1 with two key games left Friday.

"It was one of those strange ones. Gunner (3rd Jason Gunnlaugson) made two great shots, we got lucky on my first one I guess and he (Higgs) put his last one in the wrong spot and we made the double and got four," says Cotter of the wild sixth end.

"I kind of just came out of nowhere. That's curling for you I guess."

Cotter says the team also struggled earlier in the day in a 5-4 loss to Brad Gushue.

"Maybe that's the turning point, who knows. We have to come out tomorrow - we have two big games tomorrow - come out tough, make some shots, dig down, be focused and be ready to go."

He takes on Steve Laycock in the 4 p.m. draw and closes out the round robin against John Epping at 8 p.m.

Two wins would guarantee himself a spot in Saturday's quarter-finals.

Cotter is tied with five other teams at 2-1.

Glenn Howard and Brad Gushue lead the 18 team field with perfect 3-0 records.

Howard made quick work of William Lyburn 8-2 in six ends Thursday night while Gushue was a 7-3 winner over Laycock.

For Howard, it was the third straight game in which he has failed to play the entire eight ends.

"If we're at the top end of the scoreboard, I hope not (play eight ends). The bottom line is we're playing really well," admitted Howard.

"That's what I like about this, we're not missing much. We played three solid curling games and that's what I'm more pleased about."

Howard has ridden the big end to all three wins.

In his opener Howard picked up a three ender early against Jacobs, Thursday morning, he cracked deuces in each of the first two ends in beating Jeff Stoughton and Thursday evening against Lyburn it was a four ender in five that broke open a tight game.

In the evening game Howard says they got a bit fortunate in the third end to get a steal of two when Lyburn ticked a rock with his last stone.

"If he makes that shot he's up one and we get a tick on Willie's shot - if he doesn't get that we don't get four. It's a game of inches."

In other games Thursday evening, Brent Pierce (2-1) beat Peter Dr Cruz of Switzerland (1-2) 6-3 while Rob Fowler (2-1) handed Team Martin (2-1) it's first loss 7-4.

Meantime, for the second straight day, the Swiss team played without lead Valentin Tanner who was too ill to play.

Wednesday night, the team went with just three players but Thursday, they recruited Kelowna Curling Club manager, Jock Tyre to fill the vacant spot.

Tyre played both games with De Cruz Thursday.

"(I'm feeling) Good actually. I'm surprised I feel like I'm holding up my own. I figure if I can play anything better than my age I'm okay says Tyre who says it's been many years since he stepped onto arena ice.

As for Friday, Tyre says he's ready to go if he's needed.

He won't know that until just before game time at 9 a.m.

Round robin concludes Friday with four draws.

Tie-breakers if needed start at 9 a.m. Saturday followed by the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

The championship game goes Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

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