Homan halts Carey to start title defence at GSOC Canadian Open

Rachel Homan shoots a stone during the fourth draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 15, 2020, in Yorkton, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

YORKTON, Sask. — Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan kicked off their title defence in the Meridian Canadian Open with a 6-3 win over Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey during Wednesday afternoon’s action at the Gallagher Centre.

Homan, who won her record-breaking 10th Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s title at last year’s event, moves onto the A Event semifinals and will play Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg, who rallied with a three-ender in eight to edge Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker 6-5.

“It always feels great to start off with a win,” Team Homan second Joanne Courtney said. “Our main goal is to learn the ice, learn rocks, and get comfortable. There were some great shots made by both teams and we’re happy with the result.”

Homan drew for deuces in the first and third ends to hold an early 4-1 lead against the reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion.

Carey, who captured the Meridian Canadian Open in 2018, closed the gap with a double for two points in the fifth and had Homan in trouble in the sixth sitting three counters. However, Homan bailed out big time rolling an angle raise double takeout to score a single.

“We were in a ton of trouble in the sixth end and she made a beautiful shot,” Courtney said. “Sometimes we need that from her so it was a great throw and well-called by (third) Emma (Miskew). We were very fortunate to get out of that with a point.”

Team Homan stole one in seven and nailed a double takeout in eight to run Team Carey out of rocks.

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 nice to have a chance of pace,” Courtney said. “We’ve played three Slams with the pool play. To start off the New Year with a different format is always fun. We’re always thrilled to play in the Grand Slams, so it’s always fun to be a part of it.”

Hasselborg added: “It’s cool to have some other format. It’s tough playing the teams but schedule-wise it’s not as heavy on the body as normal triple knockout is, so I really like it. It’s fun.”

Hasselborg is aiming to claim a third consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title following back-to-back wins at the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge and BOOST National to finish 2019.

“With the five-rock rule, you might have a chance for a three and we were lucky enough to have that,” Hasselborg said. “We played a good end and gave us chances, so I’m very happy with how my team played. I don’t think we played as bad as how maybe the scoreboard looked a few times. We were on the wrong side of the miss sometimes but we’re learning and grinding and nice coming up with a win.”

Carey and Walker, both 0-1, will meet in the first round of the B Event.

In men’s play, Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe went 2-0 on the day and reached the A-finals following a 7-1 rout over Toronto’s Team John Epping (1-1).

Koe will take on Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., with a playoff spot on the line after Gushue (2-0) defeated Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson 8-3.

Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen improved to a 1-1 record in the B Event with an 8-3 victory over Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont. Howard (0-2) became the first to fall to the C Event and must win out to remain in the tournament.

The Meridian Canadian Open continues with Draw 5 Wednesday at 8 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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