TORONTO — Team Tracy Fleury and Team Silvana Tirinzoni were the first to qualify for the women’s playoffs in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.
Team Fleury, from East St. Paul, topped Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli 7-4 in an all-Manitoba matchup during Draw 12 Thursday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Tirinzoni, of Switzerland, advanced with a 6-3 win over Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead in a matchup between the world champions and the Olympic gold medallists.
Both Fleury and Tirinzoni finished the triple knockout preliminary round with unblemished 3-0 records through the A side and have a day off to rest for Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Einarson and Muirhead, now with 2-1 records, dropped into Friday’s B Event finals. Team Einarson will play Team Daniela Jentsch of Germany and Team Muirhead meets Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan.
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.
Fleury opened with the hammer but the pressure was on early as she faced four counters in the first end and had to hit into the pocket for her single point. Einarson took the lead in the second after bumping Fleury’s rock with just enough quiet weight to nudge it far enough and stick her shooter to score a deuce.
The teams traded singles in the third and fourth ends as Einarson remained ahead up 3-2 heading into the break.
After Fleury settled for another single in the fifth to knot it back up, the momentum swung in her favour as Einarson rubbed the guard on her last shot in the sixth end and missed the counters to give up a pair of points and trail 5-3.
Einarson could only get one back in the seventh and misfired her runback attempt in the eighth, sending the raised rock through the wickets, as Fleury tacked two more points on the board without having to throw the final rock of the game.
Meanwhile, Tirinzoni took control right out of the gate converting for deuces in the first and third ends while limiting Muirhead to singles in the second and fourth to lead 4-2 at the break. The force was strong through the back half of the match with singles back and forth in five and six. Tirinzoni added another one in the seventh to establish the three-point gap that Muirhead was unable to erase.
Reigning Olympic and world champions Team Niklas Edin of Sweden rolled past Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher 6-2 and into the men’s quarterfinals undefeated at 3-0. The trio of skip Edin, third Oskar Eriksson and second Rasmus Wranå scored three in the fourth and stole three in the fifth. Bottcher drew for another single point in the sixth and conceded early.
Team Edin are playing short-handed with lead Christoffer Sundgren out of the lineup with a lower-body injury.
Bottcher (2-1) has at least two more opportunities to qualify and takes on Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte in Friday’s B Event finals.
Defending champions Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland also clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with an 8-2 thumping over Team Kevin Koe of Calgary.
Koe (2-1) will now play the Canadian champions Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., during the B qualifiers in a rematch of the Brier final.
The Princess Auto Players’ Championship continues with Draw 13 Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET / 5:30 a.m. PT.
Tickets are available at the box office and online at thegrandslamofcurling.com/tickets.
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 prize purse. Winning teams earn $35,000. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship. Winners of the Pinty’s Cup receive $50,000 bonuses.