Dropkin upends Carruthers for final Co-op Canadian Open men’s playoff spot
CAMROSE, Alta. — It was almost A-B-C-you-later in the Co-op Canadian Open for Team Korey Dropkin of the United States.
The fourth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament of the season features a triple knockout preliminary round where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs.
Dropkin won his first two games before losing both A and B qualifiers to drop into the last-chance C-side. Better late than never, Dropkin punched the final playoff ticket with a 5-4 victory Friday night over Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” Dropkin told Sportsnet’s Mike Harris after the game. “Every team you play here is going to bring their A-game. We thought we put together some good games against (Brendan) Bottcher and against Bruce (Mouat). The plan tonight was just to come out and feel like we’re playing the way we’ve been playing and just try to make one more shot.”
Trailing 2-1 in the fifth, Dropkin looked to line up a straight double raise takeout to possibly score three points. The risk didn’t turn into a reward, however, as Dropkin was off the mark and missed Carruthers’ buried shot rock.
The three-ender that got away came back to Dropkin as he capped a strong sixth stanza to count his trey and jump ahead 4-3.
Dropkin, who shot 90 per cent in the match, pulled off a pair of pistol shots in the seventh end that forced Carruthers to draw against three and tie it up 4-all.
That handed the hammer over to Dropkin for the decisive eighth end, however, he didn’t need to throw his last rock as he already sat shot stone when Carruthers misfired his final attempt.
“It’s tough going from a situation where you think you’re going to grab two or three and giving up a steal and coming back,” Dropkin said. “I’m proud of my boys for hanging in there. We were pretty happy to (score) a three there. Then in that seventh end, just making a couple beauties on our last couple that kind of secured the force, so we were pretty happy to have hammer tied coming home.”
It was the first event for Carruthers with Brad Jacobs subbing at third after parting ways with Jason Gunnlaugson during the holiday break. The seven-time Grand Slam men’s champion Jacobs, who took a hiatus from competitive curling at the end of last season, will fill in on Team Carruthers for the remaining Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments this year.
Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller and Italy’s Team Joël Retornaz also advanced through the C-qualifier draw. Schwaller ousted Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte 7-2 and Retornaz, who won his first Grand Slam title at last month’s WFG Masters, bounced Team Tanner Horgan of Sudbury, Ont., 8-6.
Dropkin will play undefeated A-qualifier Team Niklas Edin (3-0) of Sweden in the quarterfinals while Schwaller faces Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher (3-0), Retornaz goes up against Winnipeg’s Team Matt Dunstone (3-1) and Team Brad Gushue (3-1) of St. John’s, N.L., will play Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat (3-1).
In the women’s division, Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa and Sweden’s Team Isabella Wranå qualified A-side undefeated at 3-0 while Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan, Winnipeg’s Team Abby Ackland and Team Eun-ji Gim made it through the B-side posting 3-1 records. Ackland and Gim will face off in the quarterfinals while Fujisawa, Wranå and Homan await the winners of the C-qualifiers.
The women’s C-qualifiers kick off Saturday’s action at 10:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. local time featuring Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., vs. Switzerland’s Team Raphaela Keiser, Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg vs. Italy’s Team Stefania Constantini and Team Jennifer Jones vs. Team Kaitlyn Lawes in an all-Winnipeg matchup.
Broadcast coverage resumes with the men’s quarterfinals at 2 p.m. ET / noon local time on Sportsnet ONE with online streaming available at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or Yare (international).
Tickets are available at the Encana Arena box office and online at camrosegsoc.goigniter.com.