TORONTO — It was a wild Wednesday for Kerri Einarson in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Einarson and her club from Gimli, Man., were shut out 13-0 against Vancouver’s Clancy Grandy during the early afternoon draw but bounced back with a 6-5 victory over Eun-Ji Gim of South Korea in the evening.
Team Einarson, who have reached a record six consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s finals, improved to a 1-2 round-robin record with two more games to go in the preliminary stage.
The five-time Grand Slam champion Einarson shot a game high 84 per cent with her team firing at an 80 per cent clip.
“It feels pretty good,” Einarson said. “We’ve just been kind of on the wrong side of things, either a little bit too heavy or a little bit too light and just not getting them running. To come out with a good, solid game tonight really, really helps boost the confidence.”
Einarson praised the play of lead Briane Harris, who is expecting a baby while continuing to play.
“It’s amazing to see,” Einarson said. “She’s a talented player, a soon-to-be mom and she’s just giving her all out there for a game that she loves. We love having her and she hasn’t complained yet.”
It was a see-saw matchup as the teams traded pairs of points to start followed by singles back and forth through the following four ends. Einarson snapped the 4-4 tie in the seventh by making one of her bread-and-butter double takeouts to score a deuce.
“I slid like a tiny bit full and I was like, oh, how do I correct it? But we made it,” Einarson said with a smile. “It feels good to come out and play a solid game and put some curling shots together.”
Gim didn’t give up and attempted an angle raise triple takeout in the final frame but couldn’t get all of the granite going to only count a single.
“They made a lot of really great shots against us,” Einarson said. “We had them on the ropes a couple of times and the skip bailed them out. They’re a great young team.”
Elsewhere in the evening draw, Sweden’s Isabella Wranå climbed to a 3-0 record following a 6-2 victory over Casey Scheidegger’s team (0-2) from Lethbridge, Alta. Both Scheidgger and second Jessie Haughian are absent this week (maternity leave) with Chelsea Carey and Jamie Sinclair subbing in.
In men’s play, Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller (2-1) picked up a 6-2 win against Winnipeg’s Matt Dunstone (1-1).
Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., moved up to a 3-0 record on the men’s side with a 7-2 victory over Sweden’s Niklas Edin (1-1).
The frequent rivals met twice last week during the world men’s curling championship in Ottawa with Gushue coming out on top in both meetings there as well.
“We can’t shake those guys. It seems like we’re always facing them,” Team Gushue lead Geoff Walker said with a laugh. “We always know we’ve got to bring our best when we play them because you know what you’re going to get from Nik most times.
“We’ve played pretty well coming off of a high. Sometimes it’s hard to get going with such a quick turnaround but it’s the Players’. Obviously, it’s the best event of the year and the best teams, so you’ve got to make sure you’re ready and luckily we’ve played good to start.”
Walker, whose team earned silver medals at the men’s worlds, explained how easy it is to come out flat with a tight turnaround between events.
“I remember last year coming back from the worlds, I think our first game we got run off the ice in about six or seven ends. It’s very easy to do,” Walker said. “I’m proud of the guys. We all showed up and played well and we’ve still got a couple more to go because we want to get that bye.”
Deuces were wild with the teams trading pairs of points in the second and third ends. Gushue drew to count another couple in the fourth then stole two points in the fifth when Edin missed his last shot.
It looked like Gushue had the game in a checkmate hold during the sixth end, but Edin opted for another stylish super-spinner to the delight of the crowd. If the one he made at the worlds was “one in a thousand” then this one was one of the other 999 attempts and Gushue added another stolen point.
“If he starts getting carried away you’re going to see a lot of people start doing that now,” Walker joked. “He was pretty much drawn dead. I don’t think he could make the double without killing his own. He was just hoping to give the fans something to cheer about.”
Round-robin play resumes Thursday at 8 a.m. local time. Tickets are available at the box office and online at Ticketmaster.ca.
NOTES: The Princess Auto Players’ Championship features 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams from around the world based on the World Curling Federation’s year-to-date world team rankings. … Round-robin play runs through to Friday. The best six teams overall qualify for Saturday’s playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. Both finals are scheduled for Sunday. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions in the series during the event.