CALGARY — Win or lose the season's first Grand Slam final, Team Bottcher vice Darren Moulding felt his teammates should be more than proud of their showing in the curling bubble.
They won their first Tim Hortons Brier title at the Markin MacPhail Centre and reached the quarterfinal at the world men's championship. They followed that up by reaching Monday's final at the Humpty's Champions Cup before dropping a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat.
"I said to the guys before our game today: 'What we've done in this bubble, most competitive curlers would consider that a good career,'" Moulding said. "We've been able to accomplish that in less than two months together (here).
"So when we walk out of here — no matter what happens in the next event — I don't think you can make it anything else than a success for us."
Ottawa's Rachel Homan also had reason to hold her head high. She defeated Switzerland's Silvana Tirinzoni 6-3 in the women's final later in the day at the WinSport Arena.
The victory came less than a month after giving birth to her daughter Bowyn. Homan reached the Scotties final in February while eight months pregnant and continued her strong play upon her return to the bubble.
After exchanging singles with Tirinzoni, Homan scored a deuce in the third. She forced Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz to a single in the sixth end, cutting Homan's lead to one.
Homan took a 5-3 lead into the eighth and final end. Down two with hammer, Paetz tried to pull out a runback angle-raise double but gave up a steal.
"The stars kind of aligned, said vice Emma Miskew. "We were making enough shots and it's such a tough field that it could go either way in a couple games, but we managed to squeak it out."
It was Homan's record 11th career victory in a women's Slam final.
The men's game turned in the fifth end when skip Brendan Bottcher was light on a draw to the eight-foot ring. Mouat stole two points and added another steal in the seventh before running Bottcher out of rocks.
"We just managed to keep the pressure on," Mouat said. "We forced them into some pretty tough shots. They made a lot of them to be fair. We were maybe just on the better side of the inch.
"It was a really close game and we're obviously totally buzzing to win."
Mouat, who beat Bottcher en route to a world silver this month, won his first Grand Slam title since 2017. His team pocketed $25,000 for the victory while Bottcher's side earned $17,000.
The payouts to the champions and finalists were the same for the women's draw.
Bottcher and his Edmonton-based teammates will take on Mouat again Tuesday when they meet in round-robin play at the Princess Auto Players' Championship, the second and final Grand Slam event in the bubble.
"We know we have to play almost flawless to beat them," Moulding said. "They're playing really well right now. I thought we were in control of the game but just weren't quite getting the results when we were needing them."
Bottcher had hammer in the first end and used it to score two with a nose hit. He put the pressure on in the second by sitting three, forcing Mouat to find the port on an inturn draw to salvage a single.
Bottcher was forced in the third end and Mouat pulled even with a hit and stick for two in the fourth end. Moulding and Bottcher both threw in the high 60s overall, well behind Mouat at 92 per cent and vice Grant Hardie at 81 per cent.
"It was just an inch thick or an inch thin and you don't quite get a perfect result," Moulding said. "Eventually it caught up to us later in the game."
The Champions Cup was pushed back a day after a COVID-19 scare on the final weekend of the world championship. Four positive test results were later deemed 'false positives' and play continued after a one-day break.
The schedule change forced Sportsnet to adjust plans for its broadcast schedule, so TV coverage of the Players' Championship will begin Wednesday afternoon. Play continues through Sunday.
The seventh and final competition in the spectator-free Canada Olympic Park venue will be the April 30-May 9 LGT world women's curling championship.
Kerri Einarson's Manitoba-based team will represent Canada.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2021.
The Canadian Press