Einarson earns win over Muirhead at GSOC Boost National

Kerri Einarson (centre) calls the line during the fourth round-robin draw of the Boost National on Dec. 12, 2018, in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., is in the win column to start at the Boost National.

Einarson, who finished runner-up at last weekend’s Canada Cup, earned a 5-2 victory over Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead during Wednesday’s afternoon round-robin draw.

Team Einarson arrived to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event straight from Estevan, Sask., where they finished runner-up this past weekend in the Canada Cup.

“We definitely want to catch up on our sleep,” skip Kerri Einarson said. “We had a long trip from Estevan to here, so three flights later and we made it at two o’clock in the morning. We had some rest, which was good, so we’ll get some more after this game.”

It was an evenly matched game to begin with singles going steady back and forth in the first half tied 2-2 after four ends. Another single in the fifth gave Einarson the lead and there was no looking back from there with steals in six and seven.

“It was definitely (crucial) to put pressure on her and get those key draws,” said Einarson, who won the Boost National in 2016. “The ice was a little bit tricky but I think we caught on to it pretty nicely.”

Einarson made it through the port in the sixth to lie three and Muirhead made a draw but rubbed and rolled off to give up one. Muirhead attempted an in-off to possibly score three in the seventh and connected but was unable to eliminate Einarson’s shot rock as it stuck around.

“The team played really well. We set them up and it was a really great game against Eve,” Einarson said. “In the seventh end, we left her a shot for three and she just about made it. It was really close but my team played really well.”

The four-time GSOC title winner Muirhead never even had a chance to throw either of her skip stones in eight as Einarson pulled off a double takeout that ran her out of rocks.

“It felt good,” Einarson said. “I knew that we played a whole bunch of shots there so I knew how it was going to run and just had to throw it clean.”

Muirhead is even with a 1-1 record after defeating Toronto’s Team Jacqueline Harrison during the morning draw.

Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa trounced defending champions Team Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg 8-2. Already up 4-2, thanks to a steal of two in the third, Fujisawa added some insurance with a three-ender in the fifth and stole one in the sixth to bring out the handshakes.

Fujisawa, who is coming off of a Curling World Cup title victory, threw an outstanding 99 percent in the game to climb to a 2-0 record. The nine-time GSOC title winner Jones is at 0-1 to start.

Team Jamie Sinclair of the United States improved to a 1-1 record with a 7-5 win over Team Tracy Fleury from East St. Paul, Man. Fleury fell to a 0-2 record.

Team Nina Roth (1-1) of the U.S., tripled up on Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana 9-3. Roth stole three in the first, but Wrana (0-2) recovered with a three-ender of her own. That was all the 2017 world junior champions would score as Roth replied right back with a trey in the third and stole one in the fourth and two in the fifth for early handshakes.

In the lone men’s game, Team Jason Gunnlaugson of Morris, Man., made an open hit for a single in the eighth end to clip Calgary’s Kevin Koe 4-3. Gunnlaugson drew level to a 1-1 record while Koe is at 0-1.

The Boost National is the fourth event and second major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world.

Both divisions are split into three pools for round-robin play with the top eight teams overall qualifying for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semis are also set for Saturday with both finals taking place Sunday.

Round-robin play continues Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT on Sportsnet and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: Winners of the Boost National collect $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the overall season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April. … All games are played to eight ends with 33 minutes of thinking time plus two, 90-second timeouts. The five-rock rule is also in effect.

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