Homan tops Tirinzoni to secure spot in KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup playoffs
REGINA — The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup playoff picture isn’t fully formed but is shaping up following the conclusion of pool play.
Canada’s Rachel Homan claimed a spot in the women’s quarterfinals with a 7-5 victory over Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni during the round-robin finale Friday night in front of a packed house at the Co-operators Centre.
Six teams qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. A logjam on the women’s side meant a 3-2 record could either get a team an express route to the final four (Canada’s Kerri Einarson) or into the quarterfinals (Homan and Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa) or a detour through a tiebreaker (Canada’s Jennifer Jones, South Korea’s Eun-Ji Gim, Sweden’s Team Hasselborg and Canada’s Clancy Grandy) based on draw-to-the-button shootout scores.
“Those draw shots are important in these events and it feels good to qualify,” Team Homan second Emma Miskew said. “Obviously, we had a couple rough games in a row, battled back in the Hasselborg game and almost pulled it off. But it feels good to put two good games together and hoping to keep it going.”
Trailing by one at the halftime break, Homan took control in the fifth end with a bump to score three points that swung the momentum in her favour.
Tirinzoni, who was already eliminated and finished at 1-4, was forced to a single in the sixth. Fourth Alina Pätz faced five counters and pinballed around the four-foot circle for the one point.
Homan matched with a point in the seventh and ran Tirinzoni out of rocks in the eighth.
Oddly enough, the two teams met in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship round-robin finale exactly three weeks although that time the tables were turned with Tirinzoni ousting Homan to get into a tiebreaker en route to reaching the final.
“I think that it was nice to start with hammer. That’s always a nice thing against a team like that,” Miskew said. “They don’t miss a lot, so when we play against them we just really try to keep the game as close as we can.
“We got a break in getting three and kept it going from there. It’s always going to be a battle against them and it’s nice to pull off the win after losing in the Players’.”
Elsewhere on the draw, Team Hasselborg got into the tiebreakers with a 6-3 win over Norway’s Marianne Rørvik (1-4).
Anna Hasselborg is away on maternity leave and second Agnes Knochenhauer, who is also expecting a baby, has moved up to skip. Third Sara McManus is throwing fourth stones, alternate Johanna Heldin is filling in at second while Sofia Mabergs continues to lead things off.
Winnipeg’s Kaitlyn Lawes (2-3) finished her season in the win column with a 9-5 victory over Isabelle Ladouceur (1-4) of Dundas, Ont.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Ross Whyte (2-3) scored a spot in the men’s tiebreakers by not only defeating Pat Ferris (0-5) from Grimsby, Ont., 7-3 but also due to draw-to-the-button shootout scores.
Whyte’s tally edged out Italy’s Joël Retornaz by only 1.4 cm to keep his season going for at least another day.
“It was a shaky, nervous moment for us but it’s not often the biggest moment comes before the game,” Whyte said with a smile. “It was nice to know going into the game that if we win we would be onto the tiebreaker.”
Down 2-0 after giving up a single steal in the second, Whyte bounced back with a deuce in the third to tie it then swiped back-to-back points in the fourth and fifth ends to build a two-point lead.
Ferris couldn’t save it and was limited to a single in the sixth then shook hands after Whyte counted three in the seventh.
“We kind of stuck at it,” Whyte said. “We gave up a steal in two and those boys were playing very well. It was always tricky the whole way through. We managed to put a couple of good stones in the right positions at the right times and managed to come through in the end.”
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Men’s Division: Canada’s Matt Dunstone and Brendan Bottcher both earned byes to the semifinals with unblemished 5-0 records. Sweden’s Niklas Edin and Canada’s Brad Gushue clinched playoff berths to the quarterfinals at 4-1.
The final two men’s spots are still up for grabs and will be determined via tiebreakers: Whyte vs. Canada’s Reid Carruthers and John Shuster vs. Korey Dropkin’s team in an all-American matchup. All four teams finished pool play with 2-3 records.
Women’s Division: Tabitha Peterson of the United States took the No. 1 spot and a bye at 4-1. Based on draw-to-the-button shootout scores, Einarson earned the bye to the semifinals with Homan and Fujisawa advancing to the quarterfinals.
There will be two women’s tiebreakers as well: Hasselborg vs. Gim and Jones vs. Grandy.
The tiebreakers kick off Saturday’s action at the Co-operators Centre beginning at 12 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).
Watch live on Sportsnet One, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the sixth and final event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won top tour titles to qualify. … The quarterfinals are also Saturday at 4 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) followed by the semifinals at 8 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET). … Both finals are scheduled for Sunday.