TORONTO — Sweden’s Niklas Edin stole in the seventh and again in the eighth to edge Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 5-3 for the WestJet Players’ Championship men’s title Sunday.
It’s the third Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling trophy of the season for the Karlstad-based team of Edin, third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wrana and lead Christoffer Sundgren after winning back-to-back at the WFG Masters and Tour Challenge. Their WFG Masters victory was the first for a non-Canadian men’s team in the series.
Edin also clinched the Rogers Grand Slam Cup earlier in the day to bank a grand total of $105,000. The recent world silver medallist said winning three GSOC titles this year is unreal.
“It feels amazing,” Edin said. “This is probably the toughest one to win as well. Everyone has had a long and good season to even qualify for this event and everyone is playing well usually at this time of the year after Briers and worlds and stuff like that.
“It didn’t really feel like it when we went into this event. We were kind of tired after worlds so we tried to regroup but didn’t really get the results early on. We were down 1-2 then we started playing really well and focusing better. We got some lucky breaks too, I’m not going to deny that, but we played really well through the event.”
McEwen, a six-time Pinty’s GSOC title winner, opened with the hammer and blanked the first. Edin looked to make a double takeout in the second, but over-curled to hit and roll under, giving McEwen an open draw into the eight-foot circle for a deuce. The tables turned in the third with McEwen jamming on a double attempt and Edin making an open draw for two of his own.
“We got a pretty bad start. We got what we wanted in the first end but then in the second we were lying pretty good and then Oskar flashed his one and I over-curled my double attempt and we gave up a deuce out of nothing, really, so kind of frustrating there,” Edin said. “Then we got a deuce out of nothing too, so that was the momentum shift right there. If they force us to one in the second and if he makes that double we’re not going to win that game, I don’t think. But once we got that deuce back and kept it close after that.”
McEwen blanked the fourth and was forced to a single in five. It looked like McEwen was in position to score a bunch during the fifth end until Eriksson fired a rocket to get a triple takeout and declutter the house while spinning the shooter up to the button buried.
The blank also wasn’t an option after McEwen hit and rolled out with his first skip stone allowing Edin to make a come-around draw to lie one buried off to the side of the rings.
“It felt like we could get a big momentum swing in the fifth, a nice triple by Oskar, but they also made a few mistakes late in that end to score the single and we got the force out of it,” Edin said. “After that I think the momentum was on our side but then it’s anyone’s game really.”
Edin fired a raise takeout and stuck it to get his single in the sixth to tie it again 3-3 and pulled ahead stealing one in seven when McEwen wrecked on a guard. McEwen was light on the draw with his last in eight to ice the game.
“After the seventh end when we got the force there we were lying well. He had a chance for two but it’s not an easy shot if it squeaks by the guard anyway it’s only going to be one anyway, it’s curling too much,” Edin said. “We were looking kind of good to win after that seventh end and ending up light on that last draw felt good. I don’t usually cheer for mistakes but this one I think an extra end would have been nerve-racking.”
Team Edin had little time to dwell on the difficult loss in the gold-medal game last Sunday to Canada’s Team Gushue at the world championship in Edmonton as they headed straight afterwards to the WestJet Players’ Championship. They didn’t get off to a great start at 1-2 but rattled off five consecutive wins en route to the title.
Edin qualified for the playoffs with a 3-2 round-robin record, defeated Peter de Cruz of Switzerland in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon and Scotland’s Kyle Smith in the semifinals Sunday morning.
McEwen was also on a roll, reaching the playoffs at 4-1 and picked up a quarterfinal win over Reid Carruthers and ousted defending champ Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., in the semis.
It was McEwen’s third time in the Players’ Championship final. He finished runner-up at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre to Glenn Howard in 2013 and Brad Jacobs in 2015.
McEwen is backed by third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld.
Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., finished second in the Rogers Grand Slam Cup standings to earn a $40,000 bonus, Gushue came in third to take $25,000 and Reid Carruthers collected $10,000. McEwen could have caught Carruthers and taken fourth place if he had won the WestJet Players’ Championship.
Later Sunday, Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones claimed her sixth WestJet Players’ Championship title doubling up on Edmonton’s Val Sweeting 8-4 in the women’s final. Sweeting scored the Rogers Grand Slam Cup title earning the $75,000 bonus.
Jones and Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland tied and split the second and third place prizes with each cashing in $32,500. Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg takes fourth and $10,000.
The 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season concludes with the Humpty’s Champions Cup running April 25-30 at WinSport Arena in Calgary.