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Homan continues riding the wave through Princess Auto Players’ Championship

TORONTO — Rachel Homan and her Ottawa team are maintaining the momentum of their sensational season through the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

Team Homan climbed to a 4-0 round-robin record and clinched a playoff spot following an 8-3 victory over Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones during Draw 11 Thursday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The reigning world champions, sporting a mind-blowing 66-6 record on the year, have an opportunity to secure a bye to the semifinals with one round-robin game remaining Friday against Team Satsuki Fujisawa. Homan, who holds a record 15 Grand Slam of Curling women’s titles, is not only looking for a third straight in the series, but she’s also seeking a first in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship to complete a career Grand Slam.

“The Players’ is such a hard event, so to secure a playoff spot with a game left in the round-robin is really nice,” said Sarah Wilkes, who throws lead stones for Team Homan. “It feels good. We’re just trying to go out there, enjoy it and enjoy the rest of the season.”

Wilkes added that it’s fun to cap their incredible year with a homecoming event in Ontario with the crowd on their side.

“I love being in Toronto and seeing old friends and family,” said Wilkes, who grew up nearby in Scarborough. “I just ran into someone that I curled Little Rocks with and caught up with them. I love it and it’s so fun to play in front of this crowd. Just really enjoying it.”

It was a close game to start as Homan was forced to hit for a single in the first end, however, she was able to build a 2-0 lead with a steal in the second. Jones needed to hit and roll to the button to outcount Homan’s shot rock but stuck it on the nose.

Jones hit for a tying two points in the third and forced Homan to draw for one in the fourth to regain the hammer trailing 3-2.

The game got away from Jones in the fifth though as she faced a staggered trio of Homan’s rocks and was only able to eliminate the top one as the other two stayed put to steal two points.

It was an opportunity missed in the sixth as Jones’s attempt to draw for two wrecked to only score a single.

Homan drew for a critical count of three in the seventh that put the game out of reach.

“It felt really good,” Wilkes said about the win. “Every time we play Jenn we know it’s going to be a battle. It’s nice to come out on top.”

Jones dropped to a 1-3 record in her final Grand Slam appearance as she plans to retire from women’s curling after the event.

PRINCESS AUTO PLAYERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: Live Scores | Draw Schedule | Broadcast Schedule

Elsewhere in Draw 11, Eunji Gim (3-1) made a triple on her last shot to score two and lift her South Korean club to a 5-4 win over Switzerland’s Team Xenia Schwaller (1-3).

In men’s play, Brad Jacobs (2-2) drew for the winning point in the extra end as his Winnipeg-based team picked up a key 6-5 victory over Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher (1-3).

“It’s huge,” said Reid Carruthers, who throws third stones for Jacobs. “It keeps our chance at playoffs alive, which is massive for us. I was looking at the standings and I think 2-3 does potentially still have a chance depending on how tomorrow goes but getting the second win now and knowing we play Niklas [Edin] tomorrow night, it gives us some positive energy going into tomorrow.

“We just beat a really good team, so we know we’re going to have to play amazing to beat the world champs.”

Princess Auto also happens to sponsor their team, as well as those skipped by Jones and Mike McEwen, adding an extra bit of motivation to perform well this week.

“Princess Auto has been such a great sponsor of not only our team but the sport,” Carruthers said. “Jenn’s team, Mike’s team, teams before us. I was talking to the owner and CEO of the company a few weeks ago and this is the 10th year now of the sponsorship of our team, which is unbelievable. I don’t remember too many sponsors that have sponsored a team in the sport that long, so we’re very grateful to be still in the mix for the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.”

The team is also playing without second Derek Samagalski, who is on paternity leave following the birth of his daughter Navy.

“There’s a lot on the line but we’re just trying to have some fun,” Carruthers said. “Derek not being here, for the birth of baby Navy, we’re obviously thrilled that she came out happy and healthy. They’re obviously cheering us on from home, but for us we’re just trying to play it loose, keep it loose out here with a lot on line.”

Scott Howard, who has played third and skip this season, answered the call to fill in at second and Carruthers said he’s been great.

“Honestly, he’s an awesome sweeper for someone that hasn’t swept since November. He’s definitely not rusty,” Carruthers said. “I’ve been finding that his judging is awesome. He’s able to drag rocks really far and off the ice we’re having fun.

“There’s a reason why we asked him to come. He’s a guy that I’ve never played with but I have curled against him for years. He brings a certain amount of intensity and I think that’s a good thing especially with who we have on our team here.”

Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte moved up to a 3-1 record with a 7-5 decision against Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller (1-3).


The Princess Auto Players’ Championship continues Friday with Draw 12 at 7:30 a.m. ET.

Broadcast coverage resumes with Draw 13 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).


The Princess Auto Players’ Championship is the fifth and final Grand Slam of Curling event of the season featuring the top 12 men’s teams and top 12 women’s teams from around the world. … Both divisions are split into two pools of six for round-robin play. The best six teams advance to the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. If necessary, a tiebreaker round will be played Saturday morning to determine the final playoff berths. … The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Saturday with the finals on tap Sunday.