KAMLOOPS, B.C. - B.C. skip John Morris gave the hometown crowd reason to cheer as he stole one in the 10th end to beat Alberta's Kevin Koe 7-6 Saturday in the opening draw of the Canadian men's curling championship.
"It was a bit of a barn-burner to start the Brier," said Morris, who, like Koe, felt neither team played particularly well as the Tim Hortons Brier got under way at the Interior Savings Centre.
Three-time Brier winner Jeff Stoughton from Manitoba recovered from a slow start to beat Eddie MacKenzie and his Prince Edward Island rink 7-5.
Stoughton stole singles in six, seven and eight to overcome a 3-2 deficit and take control of a tight game.
Thunder Bay's Jeff Currie jumped to a 5-0 lead over New Brunswick's James Grattan in the second, scored two in four, four in six and two in eight to win 13-5 after Grattan shook hands.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue and Nova Scotia's Jamie Murphy were close until Gushue picked up a three in the eighth end and another in nine en route to a 7-2 win.
B.C. and Alberta were tied 6-6 after eight, blanked nine and, although he had the hammer, Koe had only long double runbacks to try and move a well-packed shot stone.
"You never want to leave Koe runbacks but when they're those type of runbacks you don't mind," said Morris, playing for his third province in the Brier.
He was recruited by Kamloops native Jim Cotter, who plays third but still throws fourth stones. Morris has played for Alberta and Ontario and threw third stones on Kevin Martin's 2010 Olympic gold-medal team.
"It's pretty neat, playing in the home town of course, but one thing with our team, once we hit the ice we focus on our sheets and just do everything we can to make shots.," said Cotter.
"That was pretty brutal," said Koe. "It was definitely not a classic out there. Neither team played good but that being said we're tied up with them we should win that game most of the time but we played a horrendous end."
Koe defeated Martin to claim the right to represent Alberta and make his third visit to the men's championship. After his 2010 win he went on to win the world championship.
The three steals were the key to Manitoba's win, after Mackenzie led 3-2 at one point and it was 3-3 going into the break.
"We were just putting rocks in good spots and making him make tough shots and it worked out well," said Stoughton, a two-time world champion and veteran of 11 Briers who won his first in Kamloops in 1996.
"We were playing really well so we thought we just keep the pressure on and they were making a ton of great draws and couple of hit and rolls and that's what you expect here."
He didn't need to throw his last rock in 10 after MacKenzie was light on his bid to draw behind cover.
Currie is representing Northern Ontario because last year's berth and Brier winner is still celebrating his Olympic gold medal win in Sochi.
Brad Jacobs couldn't qualify this year but starting in 2015 the previous year's winner will automatically have a berth, just like the women in their national championship.
"It's nice to break through finally and get to the Brier," Currie said after the convincing win over New Brunswick.
"I don't think that was the game plan (13) but we're not complaining about it. We got away with a few and they missed a few."
He said the ice changed a little from practice and it caught Grattan.
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