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Carruthers sneaks into playoffs at HearingLife Tour Challenge

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Reid Carruthers is well aware it’s been a while since he previously qualified for the playoffs in a Grand Slam of Curling tournament.

For those out of the loop, it was last season’s HearingLife Tour Challenge as his Winnipeg-based club missed the cut in four tournaments since.

The stakes have gotten tougher too in this year’s event with draw-to-the-button totals now breaking any ties.

“I’m well aware of how tough it is too just with the best teams,” Carruthers said. “Every single game is going to be a burner and that’s probably if you play well. If you don’t play well it’s going to be over quick. The teams are so good. It’s become way harder than it was when I first started on the Grand Slam tour, that’s for sure.”

First things first though as Carruthers needed a tense 4-3 victory Friday night over Ross Whyte’s Scottish side. That ensured Team Carruthers was in the mix with a 2-2 record and its 23.1 cm total was good enough for one of the three remaining playoff spots.

“It feels amazing,” Carruthers said. “What a battle with a great team. It was back and forth. Obviously, we got a break to go up three and then I gave a couple shots away back in the seventh end, but to punch our ticket, unbelievable.”

It was a case of no hammer, no problem for Carruthers as he established a 3-0 lead off of steals. Whyte, who blanked the entire first half, gave up a single in the fifth when his draw rolled too deep and conceded two points in the sixth when he misfired a runback attempt.

Whyte got on the board with an open draw for three in the seventh to tie it up and Carruthers finally held the hammer but it was the one end that mattered the most. Team Carruthers played a solid eighth end to sit four rocks in the four-foot circle and forced Whyte to drive his last shot into the pile. When the dust settled, Carruthers didn’t need to throw his final stone as he already held the winning shot rock.

“We were talking too, at some point we’d probably have to go two guards to up the amount of rocks in play,” Carruthers said. “It just worked out in our favour. We were patient and just got a break late and took advantage.”

Carruthers will play fellow Canadian club Team Brad Gushue (3-1) in the quarterfinals. Whyte had already qualified for the playoffs and will take on Canada’s Team Matt Dunstone with both teams sporting 3-1 records.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin squeezed into the playoffs as well following a 9-4 victory over Canada’s Team Kevin Koe. Both teams finished with 2-2 records, however, Edin tallied 31.6 cm while Koe just missed out with a 34.2 cm total.

Edin will play No. 1 seed Team Joël Retornaz of Italy. Retornaz finished round-robin play at 3-1 after dropping a 6-4 decision to Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat (1-3).

Team John Shuster (2-2) of the United States was victorious 4-3 over Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa (1-3) but fell short in the shootout scores at 87.5 cm.

The other quarterfinal matchup sees Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller (3-1) take on Canada’s Team Brendan Bottcher (2-2). Team Bottcher made it through with a 13.2 shootout total.

HEARINGLIFE TOUR CHALLENGE: Scores/Standings | Draw Schedule | Broadcast Schedule


• Team Eun-Ji Kim vs. Team Kaitlyn Lawes
• Team Kerri Einarson vs. Team Stefania Constantini

• Team Silvana Tirinzoni vs. Team Jennifer Jones
• Team Anna Hasselborg vs. Team Rebecca Morrison


• Team Joël Retornaz vs. Team Niklas Edin
• Team Ross Whyte vs. Team Matt Dunstone

• Team Brad Gushue vs. Team Reid Carruthers
• Team Yannick Schwaller vs. Team Brendan Bottcher


The women’s quarterfinals kick off playoff coverage Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT followed by the men’s quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT.

Watch both quarterfinals live on Sportsnet or stream online at Sportsnet+ (Canada) and Yare (international).


The HearingLife Tour Challenge is the first Grand Slam of Curling event of the season with 32 men’s teams and 32 women’s teams in two tiers of action. … Tier 1 features the top teams from around the world. Tier 2 features the next group of teams in the rankings with the winners earning promotions into the Co-op Canadian Open later this season. … The semifinals are also scheduled for Saturday evening with the finals set for Sunday.