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Homan in command heading into Tour Challenge playoffs

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Rachel Homan and her Ottawa-based club are in fine form heading into the Tour Challenge women’s playoffs.

Team Homan topped the round-robin leaderboard with a 4-0 record defeating Edmonton’s Team Chelsea Carey 8-3 in the final women’s round-robin draw Friday at the sold-out Tournament Centre.

The seven-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner jumped out of the gate to grab a 5-0 lead. Homan wasn’t satisfied with scoring just three in the second and added one more to the pile through the port, chipping in to score four. Another quarry quad for Homan in the third forced Carey to draw and concede one point to stretch the gap.

“It was awesome,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “We put some rocks in really good spots in terms of draws and Rachel made two really nice ones in the end there, so it’s really nice. It’s always nice to start off with a four.”

Carey (1-3) took two in the fourth to get on the scoreboard and stole one in the fifth as the plot thickened. Homan halted the comeback attempt, however, scoring three in the sixth for handshakes.

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Hometown heroes Team Krista McCarville ended things on a positive note with a 5-3 win over Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta. Both teams are out finishing with 1-3 records.

“Definitely wanted to end on a high note and to just be out here with the crowd,” McCarville said. “We felt like all week we kind of had not given the crowd much to cheer about so today it felt really good to get that win and have Thunder Bay just cheering for us.”

McCarville said it was neat having the whole crowd on her side during the week.

“We have played in Ontario and stuff but if we’re playing in Ontario, Homan is there so they are the main,” she said. “To have the crowd be totally on our side is pretty cool.”

Thunder Bay fans have been coming out in droves for all games and McCarville added it’s amazing for the city to show it’s support for the sport.

“We haven’t gotten an event in a long time, so it’s awesome to see sold out,” McCarville said. “Most of the draws have been sold out, especially the evening draws. Just to look up and see it’s super-packed with people standing, that’s awesome for Thunder Bay.”

Team Jamie Sinclair also spoiled Team Cory Christensen’s chances at qualifying with an identical 5-3 victory. The two American teams were eliminated at 1-3.

There are no tiebreakers in the women’s division with the top eight straight through. Homan faces No. 8 Team Laura Walker in Saturday’s quarterfinals while the other matches are Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., versus Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson, Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones against Team Nina Roth of the United States, and Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., playing Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni.

Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin edged Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers 4-3. Unlike the women’s side, men’s teams at 1-3 are still alive with Edin and Carruthers in contention for now pending the results of the final men’s round-robin draw.

Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher (3-1) qualified for the playoffs with a 7-4 victory over Winnipeg’s Team Braden Calvert (0-4).

Bottcher, Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz, and Team John Shuster and Team Rich Ruohonen of the United States have already advanced to the men’s playoffs.

The Tour Challenge is the third event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season and features the largest field in the series with 60 teams split into two tiers of action. Tier 1 includes 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world. Both Tier 2 divisions are composed of the next 10 teams ranked on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit plus five teams from within the event’s region.

The semifinals are also set for Saturday with all finals scheduled for Sunday.

NOTES: Winners of the Tour Challenge Tier 1 earn $20,000 of the $200,000 total purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup event. … Points are also up for grabs in the Tier 1 division towards the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April. … Tier 2 winners earn the opportunity to move up the ranks receiving invitations to the 2019 Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask.

UP NEXT: The Tour Challenge continues at 7 p.m. ET for the final round-robin draw with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).