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Schwaller fends off Gushue to take top playoff seed at Co-op Canadian Open

RED DEER, Alta. — Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller secured the No. 1 seed for the quarterfinals in the Co-op Canadian Open.

Schwaller wrapped up round-robin play undefeated with a 4-0 record following a 4-2 victory over Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., during Draw 15 Friday at Servus Arena.

Who Schwaller will play Saturday afternoon is up in the air and could even be a rematch against Gushue, whose crew will take on Calgary’s Team Koe in a tiebreaker (Saturday at 10:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. MT; no TV).

“It’s super good,” said Benoît Schwarz-van Berkel, who throws fourth rocks for Schwaller. “I’m super happy to play tomorrow at Noon. We’ll have the hammer, we don’t know against whom, but it’s going to be a good team: either them again or Koe. … A hot team, actually, so yeah, looking forward.”

Schwarz-van Berkel said it might sound cheesy but it means something to the team as they prepare for their eighth straight playoff appearance in the Grand Slam of Curling.

“Being so consistent in this field at the Slams, it honestly means a lot,” he said. “Of course, we would prefer to be in (Joël) Retornaz’s position, that’s for sure, but no, we’re happy where we are and how we’ve played the last two years.

“We think we still have some more potential. We’re just happy right now with the team and how it’s going.”

Schwaller started with the hammer, but Gushue grabbed a steal in the first end to open the scoring. Schwarz-van Berkel was able to knock out one stone and rolled as another Gushue counter remained untouched.

Team Schwaller blanked back-to-back ends and their patience paid off with Schwarz-van Berkel hitting to score a deuce in the fourth and take a 2-1 lead.

Gushue was forced to a single in the sixth with a ton of rocks in play as the 14-time Grand Slam men’s champion nudged his own stone in the house for shot rock to tie it.

Schwarz-van Berkel made a soft tap for two in the seventh and came through in the clutch to run Gushue out of rocks in the eighth.

“The early game was a bit tricky,” said Schwarz-van Berkel, whose team curled 92 per cent. “We had a very strong start actually. They managed to steal, it didn’t really go wrong for us in the first. We could have gotten a deuce realistically. Then I think two ends later … we scored a deuce after one of his mistakes.

“A bit back and forth, both teams made a few half mistakes but overall, I thought it was quite a good game.”

Gushue, Koe, Italy’s Team Joël Retornaz and Scotland’s Team James Craik all finished at 2-2. With three playoff spots up for grabs, Retornaz and Craik advanced straight through based on draw-to-the-button shootout totals leaving Gushue and Koe to face off for the final berth.

Elsewhere in Draw 15, Ross Whyte and his undefeated Scottish squad (4-0) are all tuned up for the quarterfinals with a 7-1 rout over Switzerland’s Team Michael Brunner (0-4).

Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher (3-1) advanced with a 5-4 extra-end victory over Team Magnus Ramsfjell (1-3).

Saskatoon’s Team Mike McEwen ended things on a high note with a 5-4 win against Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers. Both teams missed the playoffs with 1-3 records.

As Schwaller awaits the tiebreaker winner, the other three quarterfinal matchups are set. Whyte will meet Retornaz and look to avenge his defeat from last month’s WFG Masters men’s final, Bottcher will face Winnipeg’s Team Matt Dunstone (3-1) and Craik goes up against Team Bruce Mouat (4-0) in an all-Scottish meeting.



Women’s round-robin play concludes with Draw 16 at 10 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. MT on Sportsnet, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).


Playoff coverage begins with the men’s quarterfinals at 2 p.m. ET / Noon MT on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).

• 1. Schwaller vs. 8. Tiebreaker winner (Gushue vs. Koe)
• 4. Bottcher vs. 5. Dunstone

• 2. Mouat vs. 7. Craik
• 3. Whyte vs. 6. Retornaz


The Co-op Canadian Open is the fourth event of the Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … The semifinals are also on tap Saturday with both finals scheduled for Sunday.