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Edin, Retornaz to meet in KIOTI National men’s final

PICTOU COUNTY, N.S. — Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin earned a 6-5 victory over Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller on Saturday night to score a spot in the men’s final of the KIOTI National.

Team Edin will face undefeated Joël Retornaz, whose Italian club remained red-hot defeating Canada’s Team Brendan Bottcher 6-5 in a repeat of last month’s HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s final.

While Edin aims for his fifth career Grand Slam of Curling men’s title, Retornaz looks to take his third in less than a year.

Edin actually wasn’t on the ice when his team won its fourth championship in the series just a little over a year ago. He sustained a knee injury during warm-ups for the semifinals of last season’s HearingLife Tour Challenge and his team carried on a trio. It’s a little bit of deja vu though with Edin now dealing with a nerve issue in his right wrist.

“It’s been a little bit of a roller-coaster, kind of similar to last year,” said Edin, who finished pool play at 3-1 and also eliminated Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat 5-4 in the quarterfinals. “Just difficult for both me and the team but also you kind of get that extra focus. Same thing if you’re sick or something, you get good at focusing on one thing, what you’re supposed to do out there.

“Right now, we’re playing really well. I hope we can keep it up and my wrist keeps behaving so I can finish the final.”

Edin might be a little banged up but you wouldn’t know it from his play on the ice shooting 89 per cent in the semifinals and he said it’s starting to feel better.

“I’m going to have to look it up with a specialist when I get back home,” Edin said. “Right now, just doing as much treatment as I can and keeping it in check.

“It’s a nerve problem, so it’s pretty difficult to know what to do with it. When it appears, I can’t really use my hand at all, so just try to not make it happen too often in the game and when it happens, I just have to wait. A little bit frustrating but so far we’re super happy with the results.”

After securing the hammer to start, it looked like Edin had Schwaller in a world of hurt right off the bat in the opening frame with the potential to count a big score.

That was until Benoît Schwarz-van Berkel, who throws the last rocks for Team Schwaller, made a game-changing, come-around draw right on top of the button.

Edin was forced to try and run one of his own stones in from the side to remove it, however, he wasn’t even able to get that far as he wrecked on a guard to give up a steal.

Still, Edin held onto the hammer and maintained control of the match by scoring a deuce in the second and never trailed again from there.

“Normally you’re kind of like, ah man, we had a great end and the result didn’t go our way and it’s very negative. This time we all felt positive,” Edin said. “Even though we gave up a steal, we just felt we played so well in the first end and we kept playing well. We kind of felt that we would get the lead eventually.

“Still making a ton of shots and really well-executed all game and then obviously getting really close in the end. Against good teams at this level, you’re going to have to play well until the end.”

A steal in the fourth made it a two-point advantage for Edin and Schwaller regrouped to count a couple in the fifth to knot it up 3-all.

The teams alternated deuces in the sixth and seventh as Edin held the hammer coming home and nailed an open hit while avoiding a potential steal on the jam to advance to Championship Sunday.

Retornaz also battled back and forth with Bottcher as the teams exchanged pairs of points in the opening couple of ends. Retornaz was forced to a single in the third and Bottcher pulled ahead 4-3 with a sizzling in-off shot to score a deuce in the fourth end.

Retornaz matched with a pair in the sixth to regain the lead and pulled off an incredible double takeout to split the house with his last in the seventh.

That forced Bottcher to a single and give up the hammer coming home.

Bottcher sat shot rock partially buried in the four-foot circle, but Retornaz was able to catch enough of it and stick around for the winning point.

Retornaz, who also won 10-3 over Team Korey Dropkin of the United States in the quarterfinals, will open with the hammer due to his perfect 4-0 round-robin record, but Edin is aiming for a good start to “put the fire out.”

“They start with hammer, obviously, super confident, won the last Slam and they’re playing really well,” Edin said. “They beat us big twice last Slam, but I think this time we’re almost a different team. We’re playing a lot better and not missing as many easy shots as we did that week. I think we’ve got a good chance.

“We beat them a lot in the past and I think that mentally could be an advantage if we get the lead or play really well early. I think we’ve got a chance to get in their minds a little bit.”

The KIOTI National men’s final goes down Sunday at 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT on Sportsnet with online streaming available via Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).

Meanwhile, Canada’s Team Rachel Homan will clash with Team Eun-Ji Gim of South Korea in the women’s final.

The 13-time Grand Slam women’s champion Homan advanced with a 9-6 victory over Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg.

Gim, who captured gold in the Pan Continental Curling Championships last weekend, reached her second career Grand Slam final after defeating Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 7-3.

Watch the KIOTI National women’s final Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET / 11:30 a.m. PT on Sportsnet with online streaming available via Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).