Fleury fends off Jones in extra end at Players’ Championship
TORONTO — Tracy Fleury and her East St. Paul, Man., picked up their second victory in as many days in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.
Fleury scored a clutch single point in an extra end to edge Jennifer Jones’s team from Winnipeg 7-6 during Draw 6 action Wednesday afternoon at Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Team Fleury (2-0) are one win away from qualifying for the playoffs in the triple knockout preliminary stage while Team Jones (1-1) dropped into the B Event brackets.
“We’re happy about it,” said Fleury, whose team last played together back in early February at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. “We didn’t know how we would play after having such a long break. We haven’t been on the ice together in quite a while but we’re happy that we’ve found our groove here and have a bit of momentum.”
Fleury actually built an early 4-0 lead by converting for a deuce in the first and stealing singles in the second and third ends. Jones settled for one point in the fourth then tied it up stealing three points in the sixth when Fleury’s last rock when through the house untouched.
The teams traded pairs of points in seven and eight to force the extra frame and Fleury drew to the backing to secure the win.
“Team Jones played a really good extra end, got their rocks in good spots and made us have to throw a tough one for the win,” Fleury said.
The triple knockout consists of three brackets: A, B and C. Teams must win three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops a team to a lower bracket until they lose three games and are out of the tournament. Two A teams (3-0 records), three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals.
Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead (2-0) also advanced to the A Event finals scoring two in the seventh and stealing one in the eighth to complete a 7-6 comeback victory over Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker (1-1).
Chelsea Carey and her Regina-based team scored four in the sixth end to defeat Team Un-Chi Gim of South Korea 8-2 in the B Event. Carey improved to a 1-1 record while Gim (0-2) fell into the C Event and must win her next game to avoid early elimination.
“It’s huge,” Carey said. “We love this event and it’s actually the first Slam for most of the girls, so they’re really excited to be here. You get a little nervous when you lose the first one but you want that goose egg off the board, so it feels nice to do that and hopefully, keep getting better with every game.”
Carey jokingly said lead Jennifer Armstrong and alternate Rachel Erickson are “spoiled” to make their Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling debut in the biggest tournament of the series at historic Maple Leaf Gardens.
“My first one was in Dawson Creek, I think, so to get to come and stay in downtown Toronto and play in this building is just so cool,” Carey said. “Every time I walk in here I get the chills. It’s just awesome and it’s really fun to get to watch them experience it.”
After giving up a steal to start and settling for a single in the second, Carey rolled away with steals of one in the third and two in the fourth. Gim was held to another lone point in the fifth and conceded early after Carey scored four in the sixth.
“We didn’t have a great first end so we just tried to stay patient,” Carey said. “The ice was a little bit tricky. We had a bit of a learning curve there but we got it figured out, got better as the game went and made enough shots to pull it off.”
Sweden’s Team Isabella Wranå (1-1) also remained in the B side with a 6-2 win over Team Tabitha Peterson (0-2) of the United States.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship continues with Draw 7 at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.
Broadcast coverage of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship begins Thursday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
NO TICK ZONE
Teams cannot tick guards off of the centre line while the five-rock, free guard zone is in effect. After an infraction of the rule, the non-offending team may decide to leave the situation as is.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship is the third event of the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season, featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world, with a combined $350,000 purse. Winning teams earn $35,000. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions after the Princess Auto Players’ Championship. Winners of the Pinty’s Cup receive $50,000 bonuses. … Tickets are available at thegrandslamofcurling.com/tickets.