OLDS, Alta. — It’s the end of an era for Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg club as they played their final game together Friday at the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup.
The Canadian Olympic women’s team players are heading separate ways next season. The nine-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Jones is joining Mackenzie Zacharias’ squad as a five-player group. Third Kaitlyn Lawes, who has spent the past 12 seasons with Jones, will skip a new squad retaining second Jocelyn Peterman and adding third Selena Njegovan and lead Kristin MacCuish from Tracy Fleury’s team. Longtime lead Dawn McEwen is retiring and alternate Lisa Weagle is focusing on mixed doubles.
Their remarkable run together came to an end with an 8-5 loss to Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish squad during Draw 13 as Jones wrapped up round-robin play with a 1-4 record to miss the playoffs in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale.
Team Hasselborg, who captured last month’s Princess Auto Players’ Championship in Toronto, continued their strong play and topped the table with an undefeated 5-0 record to secure a bye to the semifinals.
Jones looked to have control of the game early stealing back-to-back points in the third and fourth ends to lead 3-1 heading into halftime.
Hasselborg recovered after the break though and capitalized after a Jones miss to draw for a tying two points in the fifth.
The 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jones made a hard hit into the rock pile to make both of Hasselborg’s stones go away in the sixth and count two for a 5-3 lead.
Although Hasselborg hit for just a tying two points in the seventh, the 2018 Olympic champion stole the game with three points in the final frame. Hasselborg had two rocks tight in the four-foot circle and under the cover of a guard, forcing Jones to make an in-turn, come-around draw to the button but the shooter came up light of the house.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim took two in the fourth and stole four points in the fifth to make quick work of Team Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., with an 8-2 decision. Both clubs wrapped up pool play with 3-2 records and are guaranteed at least another game.
In the men’s division, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher handed Team Niklas Edin their first loss of the week cooling the red-hot Swedish squad by scoring four in the seventh to earn an 8-3 victory.
Bottcher brought his record above .500 at 3-2 to stay in the mix while Edin had already qualified and is moving onto the playoffs at 4-1.
Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., also improved to a 3-2 record with a 7-4 victory over Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Jacobs (4-1) had already qualified.
Tickets are available at the Olds Sportsplex box office and online at champions.goigniter.com.
Both divisions are split into two groups of six for pool play. The best six teams overall qualify for the playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals.
The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Saturday with both finals set for Sunday.
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the fourth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2021-22 season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams who have won top tour titles in order to qualify. … A combined $210,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $25,000 plus berths to next year’s KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup. … The 2022-23 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling campaign kicks off with the Boost National, Oct. 4-9, at Memorial Gardens in North Bay, Ont. Full-event passes are now available for all six events for next season, visit thegrandslamofcurling.com/tickets for more information.