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Jacobs claims Canadian Open for 3rd consecutive GSOC title

YORKTON, Sask. — Team Brad Jacobs have made it three in a row in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., club captured their third consecutive title in the series after fending off Toronto’s Team John Epping 6-5 Sunday for the Meridian Canadian Open men’s championship at the Gallagher Centre.

Jacobs, who captured the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge and BOOST National to wrap up 2019, cashed in $35,000 plus 12 Pinty’s Cup points. Kevin Martin, Glenn Howard and Brendan Bottcher are the only other skips to win three straight Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles in the men’s division.

“It put us into a pretty elite group of athletes who have accomplished three in a row, so it’s really special,” Jacobs said. “We’re playing really well right now. What can I say? I’m not surprised with everything that we’ve been implementing as a team and I think right now the key for our team is just the six inches between our ears. I think everybody has got a great mindset and I know I’m kind of like a broken record saying that over and over but I really think we’ve been developing a great world-class mindset and the results have followed that.”

It’s the seventh career GSOC title for Jacobs, lead Ryan Harnden and second E.J. Harnden while it’s the 15th for third Marc Kennedy, who joined the crew this season after taking last year off.

“It feels phenomenal,” E.J. Harnden said. “It’s hard enough to win one, it’s really hard to win even two in a season. For us, before we even came into the season we had won four in seven years and now we’ve won three in a row, so it’s pretty incredible. I think we’re going to try to cherish it as much as we can and also use it now going into provincials.”

Team Jacobs qualified for the playoffs through the A Event of the triple knockout stage and finished the week with an unblemished 6-0 record.

“There’s no doubt these events are extremely difficult to win,” Jacobs said. “It’s hard to win one let alone multiple. The teams are fantastic, especially on the men’s side. There is so much parity among the Canadian men and a few of the Europeans, so it’s difficult.

“I think we’ve implemented a great game plan that has also attributed to a bunch of success. We’re trying new things all the time, we’re open-minded to trying new things and it has paid off.”

It was looking like Jacobs was going to run away with the game early converting for a deuce in the first and stealing two in the third to build a 4-0 lead. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist also led 5-1 after five until a surging Epping erased the deficit counting a couple of points in six and stealing two in seven to tie it.

“A win’s a win and it doesn’t always have to be pretty,” Jacobs said. “I love winning games like that where you have to grind it out. We got a break early getting up 4-0 and then we gave it back to them in the seventh end. I think both teams struggled with the ice a little bit, there were a couple of picks and whatnot, but like I said, a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”

Epping came close but couldn’t complete the comeback with Jacobs holding the hammer in the final frame, drawing against two counters and stopping just in time at the back of the eight-foot circle.

“Obviously, it’s always nerve-racking to sweep that last one that you’re expecting Brad to throw really well and now it’s up to you to not mess it up,” E.J. Harnden said. “It was good to get that type of shot under our belts.

“The last couple of finals, they’ve been suspenseful but not having to make a draw to the four-foot for the win. I think it was good for Brad and I think it was good for Ryan and me and a nice way to win it. We don’t really keep track of how we’re winning games, we just want to win them. For us, it was nice to get that win with some pressure coming down to the wire and now we feel pretty good about it.”

It was deja vu with Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg also completing the feat in the women’s division with a 7-5 extra-end victory over Team Min-Ji Kim of South Korea earlier Sunday. Hasselborg joined Rachel Homan as the only women’s skips to have won three titles consecutively.

Jacobs and Hasselborg now aim to make it four straight when the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season resumes with the Princess Auto Players’ Championship, April 7-12, at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.