YORKTON, Sask. — Team Kerri Einarson and Team Nina Roth advanced out of the A-qualifiers and into the playoffs of the Meridian Canadian Open.
Einarson, of Gimli, Man., scored three in the eighth end to solve Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead 6-5 while Tabitha Peterson skipped the American-based Team Roth to a similar score in an extra end over Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg during Thursday afternoon’s action at the Gallagher Centre.
Both Team Einarson and Team Roth completed 3-0 runs through the triple knockout stage. Peterson, who normally throws third, has moved up to skip while Roth is away on maternity leave.
“It feels really good,” Team Einarson third Val Sweeting said. “We’ve grinded it out in tiebreakers the last, well, all the Slams I think. We got fortunate to have a shot for three there in the end, but Eve’s team was playing really well and it was a really good game back and forth. We just capitalized in the end there.”
After holding Muirhead to one in the first, it was a missed opportunity for Einarson in the second. Einarson was looking at a possible count of three but needed to make a slash double, however, Muirhead’s raised stone jammed and limited the score to one.
The third was looking like a routine blank until Muirhead misfired on her first skip rock as it only grazed Einarson’s lone stone in the house. That allowed Einarson to place another into the rings and force Muirhead to draw for one point into the four-foot circle.
Einarson was able to unlock Muirhead’s frozen rock in the fourth to score a deuce and take a 3-2 lead into the break.
Muirhead bounced back with a skip’s deuce in five and stole one in six to make it 5-3 just when it looked like her team was in deep trouble. Team Muirhead missed four straight shots allowing Team Einarson to pile rocks into the house and sit four. Muirhead made an end-saving draw to freeze for shot rock though and Einarson was unable to get to it with an angle raise attempt.
“We had a couple of chances earlier and they were pretty tough shots,” Sweeting said. “Eve made that really nice freeze in six there to take our end away. It was just a good game back and forth. I love playing here in Yorkton. I’ve got some family in the area and my uncle used to coach in this building. It means a lot to play under his banner.”
Einarson blanked the seventh end to retain the hammer for the final frame where the breaks that got away from them came back. Muirhead messed up her last shot leaving Einarson an open hit for the winning trio.
It’s a little crowded behind the sheet with coach Patti Wuthrich back on the bench and consultant Jeff Hoffart, who coached Sweeting’s former squad in Edmonton, also helping out this week.
“It’s good to have a team there,” Sweeting said. “It’s good to have Patti here. She worked with us last year and she can keep us in check. Jeff used to coach our team in Edmonton, I still work with him there and he’s worked with our team when we can.
“It’s just good to have those extra sets of ears and eyes on what we’re doing just to help fine-tune things going into provincials and also obviously we want to do well here. That’s the first thing. Just always looking on what we can do better and what we’re already doing well to take forward into the next game.”
Meanwhile, Team Roth trailed 4-2 after five ends and rallied with a deuce in six followed by a single steal in seven to jump into the lead by one.
“We’ve been playing good,” Peterson said. “We struggled in the first half of that game a little bit but we were kind of like, “Hey, we’re only down two. Now we’re only down one. We’re still in this game.’ Just get more precise, put rocks in the right position and go from there.”
Hasselborg, who won the past two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s titles, held the hammer coming home but was limited to just a single to force an extra end. With a counter partially under the cover of a guard, Peterson drew around and landed on the nose to score the winner.
“I felt pretty confident in draw weight so I knew just throw a heavy draw and I would make it,” Peterson said. “I trust my sweepers that they’ll make anything for me if I just put it close.”
The Meridian Canadian Open is the lone Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event to use the triple knockout format where teams must win three games before they lose three games in order to advance to the quarterfinals. Each loss drops teams to a lower bracket until they are eliminated. Two A-qualifiers (3-0 records), three B-qualifiers (3-1 records) and three C-qualifiers (3-2 records) reach the quarterfinals in both men’s and women’s divisions.
Muirhead and Hasselborg, both at 2-1, have two more opportunities to qualify as they move into the B Event finals.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey picked up their first win of the tournament defeating Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker 6-4. Carey remains in the B Event at 1-1 while the winless Walker fell to 0-2 and into the last-chance C-side.
Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa and Russia’s Team Alina Kovaleva will meet in a B-qualifier with 2-1 records. Fujisawa beat Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., and Kovaleva topped Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan by identical 8-6 scores.
Fleury and Homan, 1-2, slipped to the C Event.
NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the Pinty’s 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. … At stake is a $300,000 total purse, split equally between the men’s and women’s divisions, with the winners earning $35,000 plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Also up for grabs: points for the Pinty’s Cup, which is the season title awarded following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship in April.