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Mouat wins Players’ Championship for GSOC bubble sweep

Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat completed a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling double in the bubble at Calgary’s WinSport Arena.

Mouat captured his second men’s title in the series in as many weeks after scoring two points in the eighth end to edge Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 6-5 Sunday for the Princess Auto Players’ Championship men’s trophy.

The team of Mouat, third Grant Hardie, second Bobby Lammie and lead Hammy McMillan Jr. claimed $40,000 from the $350,000 CAD combined men’s and women’s purse. Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker pocketed $25,000 for finishing runners-up.

“It feels unbelievable and quite amazing,” said Mouat, who ran the table posting a perfect 7-0 record in the prestigious event. “Seeing the names on that trophy, it’s just a real honour to be part of that and to be on that trophy now is going to be one of the major successes of my career I think.”

It was the third final in the bubble overall for Team Mouat as they also earned silver medals in the world men’s championship exactly two weeks ago falling 10-5 to Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin in the gold-medal game.

Team Mouat beat Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher 6-3 last Monday for the Humpty’s Champions Cup and posted an outstanding 13-1 record through the pair of Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events.

Coincidentally, their lone loss came against Team Gushue in round-robin play at the Humpty’s Champions Cup although they took the rematch the following day during the semifinals — which also came down to Mouat making a spectacular shot to score two in the eighth end to win — and Sunday’s Princess Auto Players’ Championship men’s final served as the rubber match.

“To go 13-1 for the Slams is a really good achievement for us considering the field this year,” Mouat said. “They’re literally the best 12 teams in the world. To win 13 games and to win two Grand Slam titles is more than I could ever dreamt of coming here and trying to play two Slams in a row.”

Although there was no break between the Grand Slams — and Mouat started the Princess Auto Players’ Championship Tuesday with a rematch against Bottcher — he said being able to maintain the momentum from  one event to the other helped.

“It definitely didn’t hinder us in any way,” Mouat said. “We’re normally really bad when we go to the Players’ from the worlds because we’ve travelled and are maybe a bit mentally fatigued but this time we had those few days where we managed to relax a bit. As much as it’s helped us, we had to obviously play well to win that championship and that’s exactly what we did. I’m over the moon.” 

Mouat posted a 5-0 record through pool play to earn the No. 1 seed plus a bye to the semifinals and — similar to the final — scored two in the eighth to clip Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 6-5 Saturday night to advance to the championship game.

Team Gushue went 4-1 through their pool, defeated Edin 6-2 in the quarterfinals and Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen 6-5 in the semifinals.

Team Mouat opened with the hammer based on their superior round-robin record and converted with a deuce in the first on an open hit. Two can play at that game though and Gushue matched with a pair of points in the second to tie it up.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion Gushue pull ahead 3-2 in the third when Mouat was just a tad heavy on his last, clicked and rolled off of the shot rock to give up a steal. Mouat recovered with another deuce in four to lead 4-3 heading into the halftime break.

Gushue was forced to a single in five that tied it and stole one in the seventh to lead by a point once more as Mouat attempted a double but missed the second rock.

Mouat held the hammer coming home though and made the highlight-reel shot when it mattered most coming in off his own to bump Gushue’s mostly buried shot rock at the back the button for two, the win and the trophy.

“I guess it goes down to the argument: do you want to be one down with [the hammer] or one up without,” Mouat said. “I’m still not sure what I like more but I guess in recent weeks I quite like being one down with hammer. Both games we were converted twos really well and we felt confident enough to be able to do it. The boys had such a great end there against Gushue in the final and gave me a makeable shot, which we did. It’s a great feeling right now.”

Credit also goes to his teammates for calling and holding the line to ensure the rock reached it’s final destination.

“When it’s a high hard one, everyone has to be involved,” Mouat said. “It felt really good out of my hand, I felt really confident making it. Hammy swept it perfectly and Grant called the line perfectly, so it was just a great team shot.” 

It is Mouat’s third career Grand Slam title with his historic first coming at the 2017 Boost National when the then-23-year-old became the youngest men’s skip to win a championship in the series.

Earlier Sunday, Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., successfully defended the Princess Auto Players’ Championship women’s title with a 5-2 victory over Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan.

“We’re so thankful and grateful to have been able to play in these two events and for the Grand Slams making them happen,” Team Einarson second Shannon Birchard said. “It’s always an amazing feeling to win a big event like this and to cap off the Grand Slam season with a win is pretty awesome.”

Einarson built the three-point advantage early drawing for a deuce in the first end and stealing a point in the second when Homan was heavy on her last and chipped off of the shot rock.

It was the second Grand Slam final in less than a week for Homan, who captured her record-extending 11 women’s title last Monday in the Humpty’s Champions Cup.