Eight Ends: All you need to know for the GSOC Elite 10

Brad Gushue talked about winning back-to-back Briers and the elite company he keeps with that honour.

WINNIPEG — We are back into the Slam of things with the Princess Auto Elite 10 kicking off the final stretch of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.

Ten of the top men’s teams from around the world including recent Brier champion Brad Gushue and Olympic gold medallist John Shuster are set to square off at St. James Civic Centre.

Here’s the rundown of what you need to know before Thursday’s opening draw.

1st End: A very quick history of the Elite 10

This is only the fourth annual Elite 10, so we’re not kidding around that this will be brief.

The inaugural tournament was held in Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2015 and was the first new Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event since the series was created in 2001. Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen topped Niklas Edin of Sweden for the title to have his name be the first engraved on the trophy.

Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., took home the title the following season in Victoria scoring a thrilling extra-end shootout victory over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers in the final.

John Morris of Vernon, B.C., beat Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for the championship in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., last season thanks to a clutch hit by fourth Jim Cotter with the last rock of the game. Morris will not be defending the title, however, as his team did not qualify for the Elite 10 this season.

Winnipeg hosts a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament for the first time since 2010. It’s also the first in Manitoba since Selkirk held the 2014 Masters.

2nd End: Match play rules

In order to differentiate the Princess Auto Elite 10 from the original four majors of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling, unique match play rules have been implemented for this tournament.

Teams compete to win the most ends per game. Scoring requires teams to either count two or more rocks with the hammer or steal at least one rock without the hammer.

Although this is similar to skins, here is where they differ: In match play, points do not carry over when there is a blank (single or empty house). All ends hold the same one-point value.

The hammer also switches when there is a blank.

What happens if it’s tied after eight ends? A draw-to-the-button shootout will determine the victor.

Teams earn three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win and one point for a shootout loss during round-robin play.

3rd End: Additional Elite 10 rules

There are a few other exclusive rules at the Princess Auto Elite 10 you should know about.

No Tick Zone: A stone touching the centre line in the free-guard zone cannot be ticked or raised into the house (by the opposing team) until the fifth rock of the end.

Timing devices: Usually you’ll see players use stopwatches to help determine hog line to hog line times. Not here. Players cannot use timing devices of any kind during play at the Princess Auto Elite 10. It’s like Grade 4 math class when the teacher tells you to put away the calculator.

Thinking time: This one is new. Instead of having a total “thinking time” over the course of the game, teams receive four minutes per end. Clocks will be reset to four minutes at the start of every end. If a team runs out of time, they will stop delivering rocks for the remainder of the end.

That’s not too much to remember, right?

4th End: When we last left our heroes

Has it really been almost two months since the Meridian Canadian Open? It’s been non-stop action since Peter de Cruz of Switzerland and Calgary’s Chelsea Carey took down those titles.

Of the 10 teams competing in the Princess Auto Elite 10, five of them are heading straight from the Tim Hortons Brier. Gushue leads that pack after successfully defending the title Sunday to keep the maple leaf on his back. Brier bronze medallist John Epping will also be in action at the Princess Auto Elite 10 and fresh from representing Ontario for the first time in his career.

Three of the Princess Auto Elite 10 teams represented their nations at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Shuster hits the ice for the first time since his “Miracurl on Ice” moment capturing gold last month for the U.S. Silver medallist Niklas Edin of Sweden and Canada’s Kevin Koe, who finished fourth, are the other two here skipping their Olympic teams.

5th End: Plenty of hometown favourites

Winnipeg fans will have three local teams to cheer for and in one case it’ll be the last time they’ll get to see them play together on home ice.

Mike McEwen’s team announced Tuesday they’ll be parting ways after the season. Team McEwen has spent 11 years as a unit and was among the most decorated in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling winning six titles. You can bet they’ll be looking to add to that total before they say farewell.

Reid Carruthers, whose main sponsor also happens to be Princess Auto, has a “help wanted” sign on the door with third Braeden Moskowy leaving the team. Filling in at third this week is Carruthers’s former skip, the legend himself Jeff Stoughton, who returns to competitive curling for one time only (although we also said that last year when Stoughton skipped the special Selects squad).

Jason Gunnlaugson, who fell to McEwen in the Brier wild-card game, will look to continue his surging season. Gunnlaugson won September’s Tour Challenge Tier 2 title to earn a promotion up the ranks and has qualified for the playoffs at three consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments.

6th End: Draw Schedule

Start Time (CT) A B C
Thursday, March 15
12:00 p.m. Epping
vs. Edin
vs. Shuster
vs. Howard
4:00 p.m. Howard
vs. Gushue
vs. McEwen
vs. Jacobs
8:00 p.m. McEwen
vs. Gunnlaugson
vs. Carruthers
vs. Gushue
Friday, March 16
8:30 a.m. Edin
vs. Howard
vs. Jacobs
vs. Koe
12:00 p.m. Koe
vs. Jacobs
vs. Epping
4:00 p.m. Shuster
vs. McEwen
vs. Edin
vs. Epping
8:00 p.m. Gushue
vs. Carruthers
vs. Koe
vs. Gunnlaugson
Saturday, March 17
8:30 a.m. Tiebreakers (if necessary)
12:00 p.m. Quarterfinals
4:00 p.m. Semifinals
Sunday, March 18
9:30 a.m. Final

Note: Schedule subject to change.

7th End: Tickets

Full tournament passes and single draw tickets are available for the Princess Auto Elite 10. Visit Elite10.goigniter.com to purchase your tickets today.

8th End: Televised?

If you can’t make it to Winnipeg, Sportsnet will be your home for live coverage of the Princess Auto Elite 10.

Online streaming is also available at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare TV (international).

Date Draw Eastern Time Pacific Time Channel
Thursday, March 15 Round Robin 1:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 5:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 9:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Sportsnet
Friday, March 16 Round Robin 1:00 p.m. 1:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 5:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. Sportsnet
  Round Robin 9:00 p.m. 6:00 p.m. Sportsnet
Saturday, March 17 Quarterfinals 1:00 p.m. 10:00 a.m. Sportsnet
  Semifinals 5:00 p.m. 2:00 p.m. Sportsnet ONE
Sunday, March 18 Final 10:30 a.m. 7:30 a.m. Sportsnet

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