Team Ackland qualifies for Co-op Canadian Open playoffs in GSOC debut
CAMROSE, Alta. — The Co-op Canadian Open is shaping up as a number of firsts for Team Abby Ackland.
Ackland and her Winnipeg-based club are playing in their first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event, secured their first win Wednesday and have now qualified for the playoffs for the first time as well.
Team Ackland advanced to the quarterfinals and improved to a 3-1 record with an 8-6 victory over Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish squad during Draw 15 Friday.
“It feels amazing,” said Meghan Walter, who skips and throws fourth stones for Team Ackland. “We came into this week kind of with some good expectations to try and get two wins under our belts. We did that yesterday, so I think getting this third one really solidifies our confidence this week.”
Although Hasselborg opened with the hammer, her team struggled to start giving up a steal of one in the first and three in the second to trail 4-0 early.
The seven-time Grand Slam title winner Hasselborg, who is also the event’s defending champion, bounced right back with a score of four points in the third to tie it up.
Team Ackland took two in the fourth to jump back ahead and didn’t relinquish the lead from there.
Ackland held the hammer coming home up 7-6, and Walter didn’t need to throw her last. Hasselborg hit and rolled too far and was unable to get shot rock for a potential steal to force an extra end.
“I think our patience was key,” said Walter, who shot 97 per cent. “We had a bit of a lead starting and then we gave it back up, so I think just keeping all gas and no brakes the rest of the game was very key for our team.”
Hasselborg, second Agnes Knochenhauer and lead Sofia Mabergs are just playing as a trio this week with third Sara McManus on maternity leave and spare Therese Westman falling ill prior to the event.
Team Hasselborg captured the Canadian Open women’s title when the tournament was last held in 2020.
Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan and Team Eun-Ji Gim also reached the quarterfinals through the B-qualifiers.
Homan defeated Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 5-3 while Gim beat Winnipeg’s Team Kaitlyn Lawes 6-3.
“We always have really tough games against them, really tight battles,” said Tracy Fleury, who skips and throws third stones for Team Homan. “It was the same again today, just a well-played game.
“We feel like we’re playing well now. We had a rough start in our first game but we’ve really figured out the ice and found our momentum.”
Team Homan’s game plan may have been to blank the first end and score a deuce in the second. It didn’t work out that way, however, they still held a 2-0 lead after two ends as they were forced to accept a single point in the first but stole one in the second.
Einarson, who beat Homan in last month’s WFG Masters women’s final, jammed her multiple takeout attempt in the fourth end, allowing Homan to draw for a deuce and a 4-2 lead.
The five-time Grand Slam champion Einarson blanked the fifth and was forced to hit and stay for just a single in the sixth.
Homan, who has won a record 12 Grand Slam women’s titles, blanked the seventh to retain the hammer for the final frame and connected on a runback into the pile to tack on another single in the eighth.
“We were able to maintain control for most of the game, so that helped,” Fleury said.
Hasselborg, Einarson and Lawes — all with 2-2 records — are now in Saturday morning’s C-qualifiers for a last chance to reach the quarterfinals.
Einarson plays Switzerland’s Team Raphaela Keiser, Hasselborg goes up against Italy’s Team Stefania Constantini and Lawes takes on Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones, who ousted Switzerland’s Team Michèle Jäggi 8-4 in a C-semifinal matchup during Draw 15.
The Co-op Canadian Open continues with Draw 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. local time on Sportsnet and Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or Yare (international).
Single draw tickets plus full-event, weekend and daily passes are available at the Encana Arena box office and online at camrosegsoc.goigniter.com.
NOTES: The Co-op Canadian Open is the fourth event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season with 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world at Encana Arena. … Triple knockout action runs through to Saturday morning. … The quarterfinal draws are scheduled for Saturday afternoon followed by the semifinals in the evening. Both finals are set for Sunday.