OLDS, Alta. — Tracy Fleury needed an extra end to solve Cory Christensen 7-5 during Draw 9 action of the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup on Thursday afternoon at the Olds Sportsplex.
Fleury, who held the hammer in overtime, made an open peel shot to secure her second consecutive victory in pool play and improve to a 2-1 record in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale.
The East St. Paul, Man., club of Fleury, third Selena Njegovan and second Liz Fyfe welcomed back lead Kristin MacCuish, who returned to the lineup after clearing COVID-19 protocols. Taylor McDonald filled in for MacCuish during the first couple of games.
It’s also their last event together with Fleury joining forces with Rachel Homan, Njegovan and MacCuish linking up with Kaitlyn Lawes and Jocelyn Peterman on the new Team Lawes, while Fyfe will play with Chelsea Carey next season.
Christensen, from the United States, opened the scoring with a steal in the second as Fleury attempted an angle runback, however, her raised stone went sideways and missed the counter in the house.
Fleury bounced back in the third end to jump ahead 2-1 with one point in her pocket and adding another following a close measurement around the button.
Fleury took a two-point lead into the break after making a fantastic come-around draw to lie buried in the four-foot circle during the fourth end that forced Christensen to hit off of a guard from the side and roll in, but she missed the mark.
Christensen regrouped and capitalized in the fifth drawing for the tying two points that made it 3-3.
Fleury settled for a single in the sixth and regained the two-point advantage with a steal in the seventh as Christensen faced a couple of counters and jammed it.
Christensen (0-3) was able to hit and stick for the equalizing deuce in eight after Fleury missed a hit that forced the extra end.
Meanwhile, Anna Hasselborg and her Swedish squad drew closer to clinching a playoff spot with a 10-3 decision over Amber Holland’s team from Saskatoon. Hasselborg (3-0) drew for three points in the second, fourth and seventh ends while also stealing one in the fifth. Holland (1-2) was held to a single in the third and took two in the sixth.
Both Hasselborg and second Agnes Knochenhauer are celebrating their 33rd birthdays.
Team Hasselborg started the Princess Auto Players’ Championship last month at 0-2 before winning six straight games en route to the title and the record books by becoming the first women’s club to capture all four majors in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series.
In men’s play, Team Brad Gushue (2-1) of St. John’s, N.L., cruised back into the win column with an 8-2 rout over Edmonton’s Team Ryan Jacques (0-3) and Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin (3-0) scored a single in an extra end to win 5-4 over South Korea’s Team Soo-Hyuk Kim (2-1).
Gushue, who captured bronze at the Olympics and silver at the worlds for Canada this year, scored three in the first and stole one in the second for an early 4-0 hold. After singles back and forth, Gushue swiped three more points in the fifth to put the game out of reach and Jacques shook hands after getting another lone point in the sixth.
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.
Pool play runs through to Friday with the quarterfinals and semifinals scheduled for Saturday and 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.