CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. — Reid Carruthers is burning down the house at the Princess Auto Elite 10.
Carruthers and his red-hot rink from Winnipeg are all clear through to the semifinals earning the bye as the No. 1 seed following the conclusion of round-robin play.
Team Carruthers clipped Calgary’s Kevin Koe 1 UP winning two ends to one during Friday night’s round-robin finale at Thames Campus Arena.
Teams earned three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss and zero points for a regulation loss in preliminary play. Carruthers topped the table with an undefeated record at 3-1-0-0 and 11 points.
Considering Team Carruthers is also sponsored by Princess Auto, it’s a good thing they’re putting on a show at this event.
“Hopefully, they’re as pumped as we are about how we’re doing,” Carruthers said.
Koe finished with a 3-0-0-1 record (nine points) and will play Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in the quarterfinals.
Carruthers had to be sharp to start against Koe with fourth Mike McEwen needing to make a hit and roll into the house that bumped to the button for a push in the opening frame.
Koe stole the lead in the third end as he sat one seemingly innocent rock at the back of the 12-foot circle that proved to be the difference-maker as McEwen came up short of the house with a bad stone. McEwen bounced back with a wide draw around and into the four-foot circle during the fourth that won the end and made it all square.
“He made some beauties,” Carruthers said. “Both teams had some uncharacteristic misses but at the same time there were a couple real beauties in that game.”
That’s how it remained down to the wire with Team Carruthers holding the hammer coming home. McEwen hit and stuck around on his first shot to lie two and didn’t need to throw his last as Koe’s final shot was locked on the guard.
“To be honest, it was a little bit of a struggle that game,” Carruthers said. “It was back and forth. It was a little bit frosty tonight. I know with the humidity outside and it being a warmer temperature it was harder for the ice makers to make it pristine like they normally do but we’ll take it.”
Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., secured the second bye to the semifinals following a 2-and-1 victory (2-0 in seven ends) over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat. Gushue (3-0-0-1, nine points) finished as the No. 2 seed based on cumulative pre-game draw-to-the-button totals.
The back-to-back Brier champion Gushue didn’t crack the scoreboard until the fifth end with nothing but blanks on the board for the first half and sealed the deal adding another in the seventh.
“It was a game of missed opportunities in the first four ends,” Gushue said. “I missed a really easy shot in the first end. Bruce had a couple shots where he could have gotten a skin as well. Finally, I said to the guys after the halfway point, the first skip to make a shot wins the game. I made a couple in five, we got a skin there and made a good one then in seven to finish it off.”
Gushue emphasized how important it is to jump on any opportunity to score when you can.
“When we look back at our game against Glenn (Howard) and running out of time in the first end, that just switched the whole game around,” he said. “When you get a chance to get a skin, you’ve got to take advantage of it. That one-point swing one way or the other is huge. Instead of being one-down you could be one-up and it just changes the complexion of the game completely.”
Jacobs regained his form to reach the playoffs with a 3-and-1 win (3-0 in seven ends) over Sweden’s Niklas Edin. Jacobs (2-0-0-2, six points) dropped his first couple games and turned the ship around defeating Scotland’s Ross Paterson in the morning draw.
“We had a little bit of a slow start,” Team Jacobs second E.J. Harnden said. “We still don’t have ice back home in Sault Ste. Marie, so a week off and we felt the rest the first few games.
“We started playing well this morning and then we kept rolling tonight. We played really well and got a really good handle of the ice. The ice is good, you just need to communicate and make sure you’re talking constantly out there. I think we did an awesome job tonight with really effective communication, read the ice really, really well and that was the key tonight in terms of making some really good shots and having a good game.”
Jacobs didn’t start with the hammer but poured on the pressure to hold Edin to pushes while winning the second and fourth ends and stealing in the seventh to ice the match.
“We’ve played Nik enough times where you think you have him in jail and then all of a sudden he makes a beautiful shot and he’s scoring points,” Harnden said. “We did a really, really good job of just keeping pressure on, precise curling today, which is what we wanted to do regardless of the result and fortunately, it turned out well for us today.”
Edin (0-0-1-3, one point) was eliminated from playoff contention as were both of the Scottish teams as they finished with matching 1-0-0-3 records (three points apiece).
Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson (0-1-0-3, two points) ended on a high note edging Toronto’s John Epping in a shootout.
Epping advanced with a 2-0-1-1 record and seven points and will play provincial rival Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., in the quarterfinals. Howard wrapped up his round-robin portion early at 3-0-0-1 and nine points with his lone loss coming in the opening draw against Epping.
Match play rules are in effect at the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event where teams compete to win the most ends per game similar to a skins game only without carryovers. Points are scored by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer). If the game is tied after eight ends, a draw-to-the-button shootout will determine the winner.
The Princess Auto Elite 10 features three additional unique rules: Stopwatches are banned, tick shots cannot be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the sixth rock of play, and teams have four minutes of thinking time per end.
Playoff action begins with the women’s quarterfinals — Team Scheidegger vs. Team Homan and Team Tirinzoni vs. Team Walker — at Noon ET with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and gsoc.yaretv.com (international).
The men’s quarterfinals are scheduled for 4 p.m. ET (Sportsnet) followed by both men’s and women’s semifinals at 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet 360) with the finals set for Sunday.
NOTES: Winners of the Princess Auto Elite 10 earn $24,000 of the $200,000 prize purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 23-28 in Saskatoon. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season champions in the series with a $75,000 bonus for the winners.