SHERWOOD PARK, Alta. — Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers made the high-pressure draw to capture the inaugural Humpty’s Champions Cup men’s title edging Toronto’s John Epping 4-3 in a thrilling double extra end to close out the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.
Carruthers faced three counters and his shot stopped short just in time as he claimed his second career Pinty’s GSOC title — and first as a skip — at the sold out Sherwood Park Arena Sports Centre.
It was also the first career Pinty’s GSOC title for third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samagalski, and lead Colin Hodgson.
“Obviously, winning this event is an unreal feeling,” Carruthers said. “It’s the last spiel of the year, so we’re peaking a little late but at the same time it’s never a bad thing to go out at the end of the season with a nice, big win.”
Carruthers opened with the hammer and set a defensive pace blanking the first three ends. He was forced to draw with his last in the fourth while facing two counters and his stone put the brakes on just in time to count for a single.
Epping finally had the hammer in the fifth end and drew for shot rock with his last and added a second point for the deuce following a measurement. The cat-and-mouse game continued with Carruthers blanking the sixth.
Messy misses in the seventh end made it look like the force was on until Epping’s final shot was a little too high for the freeze and Carruthers drew for a piece of the button with his last to count two and reclaim the lead.
Carruthers made a beauty double with his first skip stone and a simple takeout with his second to limit Epping to just a draw for a single and send it into extras.
Carruthers had a chance to hit and stick for the win in the first extra end but rolled out to clear the house. Both Carruthers and Epping had rocks near the edge of the house, but were measured out to require a rare double extra to extend the season for yet another end.
Epping earned his third career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title in December pitching a perfect game against Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., in the Meridian Canadian Open final. Carruthers captured the National in 2013 while playing with legendary skip Jeff Stoughton.
Team Carruthers finished runner-up to Team Gushue at the National and Elite 10 events this season.
It was a double win for Winnipeg with Jennifer Jones capturing the inaugural Humpty’s Champions Cup women’s title defeating Ottawa’s Rachel Homan 7-5.
It’s a record sixth career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s title for Jones, who has also captured the Players’ Championship five times.
“That’s awesome,” Jones said. “It’s a great event, we love that they’re adding new events for the players and to be the first ones to win is something special.”
It was also Jones’s third consecutive Pinty’s GSOC final of the season following runner-up finishes to Homan in the Meridian Canadian Open in December and to Eve Muirhead of Scotland in the Players’ Championship just two weeks ago.
The third time was the charm as Jones opened with the hammer and never trailed. Homan attempted a slash double but missed the second counter and Jones made the easy draw into the house for a deuce in the first end.
Homan faced two counters with her last in the second end and made the double with her shooter spilling it up and out of the house for the blank. Jones split the rings in three and forced Homan to draw to the four-foot circle for a single.
Jones added another pair in the fourth and Homan matched taking two in the fifth to bring it within a one-point deficit.
The metaphorical three-count came in an energizing sixth end when Jones made a perfect long runback to get the takeout and score three to hold a huge four-point advantage. Homan made a soft hit and roll for a deuce in the seventh but trailed by two without the hammer coming home.
Jones kept the house clean in eight and ran Homan out of rocks.
Team Jones earned a berth for the 2017 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials when Scotties Tournament of Hearts winners Team Chelsea Carey finished off of the podium at the worlds and a spot opened up for the season’s CTRS leaders.
Team Homan had a sensational season on the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tour becoming the first women’s rink to win three consecutive majors (Masters, National, and Canadian Open) and clinched the Rogers Grand Slam Cup as the overall season champions earning a grand total of $195,500 in the series.
Homan also captured back-to-back Masters titles in 2012 and 2013.
Teams had to win a high-profile tour event over the course of the season to qualify. Both Carruthers and Jones earned their spots by winning the DEKALB Superspiel in Morris, Man.
NOTES: The Humpty’s Champions Cup was the seventh and final event of the 2015-16 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … The event was also the second of two new tournaments added to the schedule this year along with the Tour Challenge, which kicked off the season in September. … The Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling returns for the 2016-17 season starting with the Masters, Oct. 25-30, in Okotoks, Alta.