Tippin secures Pool A, Howard remains perfect at curling pre-trials

The four-time Canadian champion from Tiny, Ont., scored two in the 10th end for the comeback win. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont., locked up first place in Pool A with a 6-5 win over Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., on Friday at the Road to the Roar Olympic curling pre-trials.

Tippin drew for the winning point in the 10th end, securing Pool A with a 4-2 record while knocking Fleury (2-4).

"We’re so relieved, it’s nice to have that done," said Tippin, who won’t see action again until the first round of the playoffs Saturday. "We were going to be in quite a mess of a seven-way tie, so we’re so thrilled. Both teams came out and played incredible games, everyone on the ice. It was just a well-played game."

The seven-way tie was avoided with the Tippin win, but it still left five 3-3 teams — Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque, Halifax’s Theresa Breen, Calgary’s Nadine Scotland, Winnipeg’s Shannon Birchard and Shannon Kleibrink of Okotoks, Alta. — and just two available playoff spots.

Rocque was awarded second in the pool based on her 3-1 record in head-to-head encounters between the tied teams. The other four will battle for the third and final playoff spot Friday night. The winners will play Saturday for the final playoff berth.

One tiebreaker is required in Pool B after four teams tied with 4-2 records — Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., Briane Meilleur of Winnipeg, Kerri Einarson of East St. Paul, Man., and Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont.

McCarville and Meilleur both had 2-1 records within the pool of tied teams. McCarville beat Meilleur in the round robin to earn first place.

Glenn Howard, a four-time Canadian champion from Tiny, Ont., improved to 6-0 with a 4-3 extra-end win over John Morris of Vernon, B.C., and clinched first place in Pool A.

Morris, part of Canada’s Olympic champion team in 2010, finished in a three-way tie for second place with Halifax’s Jamie Murphy and Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson, but was awarded second based on its head-to-head wins over both Murphy and Gunnlaugson. Those teams will play a third-place tiebreaker Saturday morning.

Gunnlaugson nailed down the tiebreaker spot with a 5-3 win over Adam Casey’s Regina-based rink.

In Pool B, Charley Thomas is through to the playoffs after beating Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher to clinch first place in the pool. There was a four-way tie for second place at 3-3 featuring Bottcher, Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont., Dayna Deruelle of Brampton, Ont., and William Lyburn of Winnipeg.

Bottcher was awarded second place based on head-to-head results within the pool of tied teams, and will take on Howard Saturday afternoon.

The other three teams will go the tiebreaker route, with Deruelle and Lyburn playing Saturday morning, and the winner will meet Balsdon later Saturday.

Four teams — two men’s teams and two women’s teams — will qualify for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings next month in Ottawa.

The top three teams from each pool will advance to the playoffs beginning on Saturday, with the first- and second-place teams crossing over to meet each other in the first round of the A-side. The winners will then meet for the first Roar of the Rings berth.

The first-round losers will drop to meet the third-place teams in each pool in the first round of the B-side. The winners of the two games will then meet, with the winner taking on the A-side final loser for the second berth.

The Road to the Roar is the final qualifying event for teams to reach the Dec. 2-10 Olympic Trials — where Canada’s four-player curling teams for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games will be decided.