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Oskar Eriksson skips Team Edin to HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s title

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Team Edin, sans Niklas Edin, pulled it off again as the skip-less squad defeated Team Dunstone 7-3 in the HearingLife Tour Challenge men’s final on Sunday to claim their fourth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title.

Third Oskar Eriksson stepped up to the plate to call the shots — with second Rasmus Wranå and lead Christoffer Sundgren completing the trio — after Edin reaggravated a knee injury prior to Saturday’s semifinals.

Team Edin persevered, stealing a point in the extra end to edge Team Gushue 6-5 and set up the finale, and went undefeated through the tournament posting a perfect 7-0 record to cash in $35,000.

“It feels different but it’s very good winning again,” said Eriksson, whose team last won a title in the series at the Players’ Championship in April 2017. “It’s been how many years? Five-and-a-half or six years? It’s about time that we won another Slam. We feel we’re good enough to win Slams but it’s always tough. There are so many good teams here and they’re short tournaments. We’re better when it’s a longer tournament … so we’re really happy we managed to pull that one off, especially with three players. Hopefully, Niklas can come back and play the next one.”

The Winnipeg-based foursome of Dunstone, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Lott and lead Ryan Harnden pocketed $20,000.

Team Edin curled a sharp 91 per cent as a unit with Sundgren leading the way at 100 per cent — including once while throwing the last stone.

The tense and tight battle came loose during the sixth with the game tied 1-1. Sundgren was supposed to throw Team Edin’s third rock of end, however, Wranå fell into his usual routine and delivered the stone. That forced Sundgren to then have to throw the team’s final shot of the end — something he hasn’t done since 2011 — and nailed an open hit to score a critical three points.

“I guess (Rasmus) went into his natural habit, ‘it’s third rock it’s my turn playing,'” Eriksson explained. “We were joking a little bit, I said to Christoffer, ‘Let’s hope you get a draw for three instead of something hard,’ so we were happy to get that nose hit for three.”

Eriksson added: “We tried to control the centre of the house to keep it open, leave us a chance to score an easy one, or if we get the chance to score more then that’s great.”

Dunstone came back with a double takeout to score two points in the seventh and close within one, but Team Edin held the hammer coming home and tacked another trio on the board.

“It was a tight game,” Eriksson said. “We tried to keep the hammer as long as we could, just keep it close. The fewer ends we have to play as three gives us a better chance, we felt. Just try to keep it close as long as we can and hopefully have a shot at the end there.”

Meanwhile, Korey Dropkin and his American squad captured their second consecutive Tier 2 title with a 6-3 win over Aaron Sluchinski’s Calgary club. Team Dropkin will return to the top flight with an entry into the Co-op Canadian Open, Jan. 10-15, 2023, in Camrose, Alta., with travel and accommodations provided.