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Retornaz upends Mouat to kick off Princess Auto Players’ Championship

TORONTO — Joël Retornaz knows he’s in for a tough battle whenever he faces Bruce Mouat.

The two teams clashed just three days ago in the semifinals of the world men’s curling championship in Ottawa and met again Tuesday during the opening draw of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

Although Mouat’s Scottish squad was victorious in the semis at the men’s worlds en route to gold, Retornaz and his Italian club came out on top this time with a 6-3 victory at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

“They’re a good team when they win the world championship and they’re a good team when they don’t win the world championship,” said Retornaz, who finished fourth at the worlds. “They’re always a good team and they’re always difficult to play. We know we have to make (only a) few mistakes if we want to outperform them.

“We had a decent game today and maybe they didn’t play their best, so we took advantage of it.”

Retornaz admitted his team is a little tired having played 15 games in eight days at the worlds, however, they have a different motivation here not only competing for the Princess Auto Players’ Championship title but they’re also in the mix for the Pinty’s Cup season championship.

“I think we’re quite excited to be here,” said Retornaz, who topped Mouat in the WFG Masters final in December to win his first Grand Slam title. “It’s the end of the season almost and there’s still very much to play for like the Pinty’s Cup and the title of the Players’ Championship. We’re tired but still excited to be here and we’re going to give our best.”

Mouat, who is the double defending champion in the event, opened with the hammer but had to make a tricky shot in the first end to score a single. Retornaz took control scoring a deuce in the second to pull ahead and Mouat was forced to another single in the third to tie it 2-2.

The difference-maker came in the fifth end as Retornaz pulled off an amazing double takeout to score a crucial three points.

“It gives you a nice lead on the scoreboard and with a three-point lead you haven’t won the game yet but still, it gives you a big advantage,” said Retornaz, who shot a game high 97 per cent in the game. “The shot was there and we decided to play it because you don’t have many chances against a team like Team Mouat and when you have those you have to grab them. We were good enough to make the shot and get the three-point lead.”

It looked like Mouat would respond right back with a double for three points of his own, however, the raised rock missed the back one and he only counted another single.

Retornaz took one more point in the seventh to re-establish the three-point gap and ran Mouat out of rocks in the eighth end.

Elsewhere, Kevin Koe scored a single in the extra end to edge Brendan Bottcher 6-5 in a clash of Calgary-based clubs.

In women’s play, Winnipeg’s Kaitlyn Lawes stole four points in the first and three in the sixth to bookend a 9-2 victory over Casey Scheidegger’s team from Lethbridge, Alta. Both Scheidegger and second Jessie Haughian are away on maternity leave with Chelsea Carey and Jamie Sinclair subbing in.

Eun-Ji Gim of South Korea stole one in the seventh and another in the eighth to complete a 6-5 comeback against Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones.


Round-robin play continues with Draw 2 at 3 p.m. ET. Tickets are available at the box office and online at

Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: The Princess Auto Players’ Championship features 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams from around the world based on the World Curling Federation’s year-to-date world team rankings. … Round-robin play runs through to Friday. The best six teams overall qualify for Saturday’s playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. Both finals are scheduled for Sunday. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions in the series during the event.