GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — It’s a Grand Slam homecoming this week for Geoff Walker during the HearingLife Tour Challenge at the Coca-Cola Centre.
Team Gushue’s lead is originally from nearby Beaverlodge and said it’s great to get the opportunity to play in a Pinty’s Grand Slam or Curling tournament close to home.
“I’ve got family and friends here and grew up not too far down the road,” Walker said. “The whole Peace region, it’s always nice to come back and see some familiar faces and (receive) a lot of support from the people here.”
Walker and Team Gushue captured the Boost National two weeks ago in North Bay, Ont., and have picked up where they left in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series with a 9-3 victory over Team Brunner of Switzerland during Tuesday morning’s opening draw.
“It’s always good to get off to a good start here because the competition is so tough,” Walker said. “Getting that first win under your belt is nice.”
Team Gushue took the lead with a deuce in the second then pulled away with back-to-back steals of three in the third and two in the fourth to take a commanding 7-1 lead into the break.
“We’ve been on the right side of some big steals the last few games actually with the one against (Korey) Dropkin last event,” Walker said. “Sometimes those are unfortunate but the ice in the first game is always a little bit of a challenge and it can get you. I think it just got them there.”
Team Brunner, with new addition Anthony Petoud throwing the last rocks, recovered with a deuce in the fifth but shook hands early after Team Gushue matched with a pair of their own in the sixth.
The St. John’s, N.L., based crew of Brad Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and Walker posted a perfect 7-0 record to win the Boost National and a 14th career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s title for the skip.
Scotland’s Team Mouat also took the steal express train to roll past Canada’s Team Horgan 8-2. After being forced to a single in the second, Mouat sprinted away stealing two in the third, singles in the fourth and fifth, two more in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Elsewhere, Team Carruthers needed an extra end to solve Team Epping 6-5 in a clash of Canadian clubs and Canada’s Team Dunstone took two in the eighth end to top Scotland’s Team Whyte 8-6.
TIER 2 RESULTS
• Webb 5, Shuster 3
• Sluchinski 5, Stocker 1
• Hostmaelingen 9, Kleibrink 2
• McEwen 5, Gauthier 4
The women’s division of the HearingLife Tour Challenge gets underway during Draw 2 starting at 11:30 a.m. MT.
The HearingLife Tour Challenge is the second of six events on the 2022-23 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling calendar with two tiers and a total of 64 teams. Both tiers feature 16 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams. … Round-robin play runs through to Friday as teams play four games against opponents outside of their pool. … The top eight teams overall advance to Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals. The semifinals are set for Saturday evening with both finals on tap for Sunday.