Einarson upends Rocque in extra at GSOC Meridian Canadian Open

Kerri Einarson in action during the third draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 15, 2020, in Yorkton, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

YORKTON, Sask. — Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., needed some extra time to edge Edmonton’s Team Kelsey Rocque 6-5 Wednesday afternoon in the Meridian Canadian Open at the Gallagher Centre.

Quite literally in fact. Einarson was up by a point in the eighth end but didn’t have the hammer and was close to running out of time with only two seconds left on the clock when she released her final stone.

The two-time Grand Slam champion Einarson managed to pull off a clutch double takeout and Rocque was limited to just a single that forced an extra end.

“It wasn’t looking too pretty for us,” Einarson said. “I just knew I had really good draw weight in that game and I’d be really close on my draws. We got quite fortunate when Kelsey’s just chapped off a bit and left me that double. When I looked up and seeing two seconds left on that clock I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ and we had two timeouts. We weren’t even paying attention to that. We’ll know that for the next game.”

Einarson (1-0) kept the lanes clear in OT to ice the game with an open draw and advance to the semifinals in the A Event of the triple knockout preliminary round.

“It feels good,” Einarson said. “It felt good to be back on the ice after a four-week break off and to come out with a really strong game was good.”

The Meridian Canadian Open is the lone Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event to use the triple knockout format where teams must win three games before they lose three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops teams to a lower bracket until they are eliminated. Two A-qualifiers (3-0 records), three B-qualifiers (3-1 records) and three C-qualifiers (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals in both men’s and women’s divisions.

“It’s different and you don’t know who you’re playing next, so the excitement of that I enjoy triple knockout,” Einarson said.

Elsewhere in the third draw, Team Alina Kovaleva of Russia scored two in the eighth end to beat Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones 6-5 and Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead topped Switzerland’s Team Elena Stern 6-4.

Kovaleva and Muirhead remain in the A brackets at 1-0 while Rocque, Jones and Stern drop to the B groups at 0-1.

In men’s play, Team Matt Dunstone from Regina hit to score five points in the seventh end to finish a 10-4 victory over Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin in their opening A Event game.

Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., are one win away from qualifying for the playoffs. Jacobs, who is seeking a third consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title, became the first to reach the A-finals at 2-0 with a 7-3 win over Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller (1-1).

The Meridian Canadian Open continues with Draw 4 Wednesday at 4 p.m. CT. Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 1 p.m. ET on Sportsnet with online streaming via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … At stake is a $300,000 total purse, split equally between the men’s and women’s divisions, with the winners earning $35,000 plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Also up for grabs: points for the Pinty’s Cup, which is the season title awarded following the conclusion of the Princess Auto Players’ Championship in April.

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