TORONTO — Team Niklas Edin got back on the winning track to punch their ticket to the Players’ Championship playoffs.
The back-to-back world champs from Sweden secured a spot in the quarterfinals with a 6-4 victory over Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers during the final round-robin draw Friday night at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Team Edin arrived at the prestigious Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event straight from their latest gold medal-winning performance in Lethbridge, Alta., and kept the momentum going winning two straight to start but then hit a wall and loss a pair to bring their record level. The critical win over Carruthers ensured a direct route into the playoffs avoiding tiebreakers.
“It’s a big relief,” Team Edin third Oskar Eriksson said. “We don’t have to play eight in the morning tomorrow and get some extra rest and play for the hammer, draw shot, instead of not having the hammer in the quarterfinals. It’s a big difference.
“It was a huge game. Both teams played a lot of good shots and it was a close one.”
Lead Christoffer Sundgren hasn’t been feeling well and has held the broom in the house during skip stones while Eriksson handled additional sweeping duties. Eriksson earned a gold star for his performance shooting a perfect 100 percent.
“We actually did this lineup at the Slam last year as well when he got sick so we said going into the first game if he doesn’t feel good enough to sweep, we know this lineup will work,” Eriksson said. “It’s good practice for me as well going into the world mixed doubles with Anna (Hasselborg).”
It’s possible they’ll be able to revert to their normal configuration for the playoffs.
“He felt a little bit better during this game he said, so hopefully he can sweep tomorrow and I can be in the house,” Eriksson said.
Team Edin opened with the hammer and never trailed even with Team Carruthers keeping pace. After the teams alternated deuces to start, the difference-maker of the match came fairly early with Edin capitalizing on an open hit for three in the third to snap the tie and hold a 5-2 advantage.
Team Carruthers, with fourth Mike McEwen calling the shots, was able to take two back in the fourth stanza but couldn’t completely erase the deficit. Edin added a single in six to cushion the lead and ran Team Carruthers out of opportunities in eight with a double takeout on his last.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat and Team Ross Paterson are both still alive and into the morning tiebreaker draw. Mouat took two points in the eighth to edge Team Kevin Koe of Calgary 5-4 while Paterson held off Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., 4-2.
Both Koe and Howard had already qualified for the playoffs and finished pool play with 3-2 records. Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher also advanced at 3-2 while Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., finished as the top two seeds with 4-1 records.
Edin will meet Bottcher in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4 p.m. ET while Howard goes up against Koe. Jacobs and Gushue will take on teams emerging from the tiebreakers.
Mouat, Paterson, Carruthers, Toronto’s Team John Epping and Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland all finished with 2-3 records leading to a mess of tiebreakers for Saturday. Mouat takes on Carruthers and Paterson plays Epping at 8:30 a.m. ET.
The winner of Paterson vs. Epping goes straight through to the quarterfinals while De Cruz awaits the victor between Carruthers and Mouat at Noon ET.
Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa eliminated Pinty’s Cup champions Team Rachel Homan of Ottawa 6-5 in the lone tiebreaker game on the women’s side.
“They won the Pinty’s Cup, they’re the best team in the world so we knew it was going to be a tough ask,” Team Fujisawa coach J.D. Lind said. “Any time that you can play a great game against a team like that, we’re just happy to still be alive and be able to showcase a good game against them.”
Team Fujisawa conceded a steal in the seventh end to fall behind by one but scored the decisive deuce while holding the all-important hammer in the final frame.
“Against Rachel Homan, you just want the game to be close and you want to have a chance because they’re so good,” Lind said. “The game plan really is to just give yourself an opportunity and that’s what we did. She had a tough shot and we got lucky to get two there in the last end.”
Fujisawa is set to meet undefeated top seed Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden in the quarterfinals. Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones takes on Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul faces Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli in an all-Manitoba match and Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., plays Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey.
The men’s tiebreakers kick off Saturday’s schedule at 8:30 a.m. ET with broadcast coverage resuming for the women’s quarterfinals at Noon ET on Sportsnet ONE, CBC and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
Notes: The Players’ Championship is the sixth event and fourth major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tour featuring 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams in the world. … A combined purse of $300,000 is up for grabs with the winning teams cashing in $30,000 each. … Also on the line is the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season men’s and women’s champions and includes a $75,000 bonus for the winners. Homan clinched the women’s title Thursday with the men’s title still available.