News Canadian Open

Gushue, Jacobs bring A game to Meridian Canadian Open

YORKTON, Sask. — Team Brad Gushue and Team Brad Jacobs completed undefeated runs through the Meridian Canadian Open triple knockout stage to become the first to qualify for the playoffs.

Team Gushue, from St. John’s, N.L., topped Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe 8-6 and Team Jacobs, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., beat Team Korey Dropkin of the United States 5-3 in the A-finals during Thursday afternoon’s draw at the Gallagher Centre.

Gushue and Jacobs now have a full day off and then some as they prepare for Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“The team is playing good, I just hope the 38 hours or 48 hours or whatever we have in between doesn’t carry a little bit of rust,” Team Gushue lead Geoff Walker said with a smile. “The team is playing good and obviously in this field, if you can go 3-0 you’re doing something right.”

Securing hammer through the draw-to-the-button shootout proved to be key for Team Gushue as they converted for a deuce in the first and had Team Koe chasing through the see-saw affair.

After Koe drew for two in the second, Gushue made an in-turn, in-off in the third to count another couple and pull back ahead.

The reigning Pinty’s Cup champion Koe replied with a pair in four to tie it 4-4. Gushue once again made a nice shot in five to go up 6-4 running a guard into the pile and sit two once the dust settled.

One more deuce in six from Koe knotted it back up at and the streak was snapped in seven as Gushue was held to draw for just a single.

That gave Koe the hammer for the final frame, however, Gushue forced him to throw a tricky angle raise with his last that missed the mark and tacked a single on the board.

“That was an unbelievable game by both teams,” Walker said. “I would imagine both teams were in the 90 per cent. It was just a heavyweight duel basically back and forth. They were able to force us in seven, which wasn’t great for us but we knew we would be able to put a lot of pressure on them in eight and make them make a tough one for two. All in all, a solid game.”

Indeed, Team Gushue threw at a 91 per cent clip, with Walker leading the way at 97 per cent, while Team Koe fired at a 92 per cent pace.

Meanwhile, Jacobs continues his quest for a third consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s championship after winning the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge and BOOST National back-to-back.

“It feels great,” Team Jacobs second E.J. Harnden said. “Any time you can qualify early you want to be able to do that. We’re excited and we’re looking forward to a little bit of a break because we know it’s going to be a hard grind come playoff time. We’re going to use the time to rest and have a little bit of fun.”

The Meridian Canadian Open is the lone Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event to use the triple knockout format where teams must win three games before they lose three games in order to advance to the quarterfinals. Each loss drops teams to a lower bracket until they are eliminated. Two A-qualifiers (3-0 records), three B-qualifiers (3-1 records) and three C-qualifiers (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals in both men’s and women’s divisions.

Koe and Dropkin, both 2-1, still have two more opportunities to advance dropping to the B-finals. Koe’s opponent has yet to be determined while Dropkin will play Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz in the evening.

De Cruz defeated Team Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton 6-2 to improve to a 2-1 record. The defending champion Bottcher fell to 1-2 and must win out in order to avoid elimination.

Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone also moved up to 2-1 to reach the B-finals with a 7-3 victory over Team Yannick Schwaller (1-2).

Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat (1-1) clipped Team Niklas Edin 4-3 for their first win in the B Event. Edin’s Swedish squad slipped to the C Event with a 0-2 record.

The Meridian Canadian Open continues at 5 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. CT with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet ONE on online streaming via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the 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. … At stake is a $300,000 total purse, split equally between the men’s and women’s divisions, with the winners earning $35,000 plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Also up for grabs: points for the Pinty’s Cup, which is the season title awarded following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship in April.