Homan, Muirhead bring their ‘A’ game to Meridian Canadian Open

Rachel Homan delivers a stone during the eighth draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 10, 2019, in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Rachel Homan and her Ottawa-based club have carried over their momentum from last year into 2019.

Homan, who won back-to-back Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles to close out the calendar, is now all clear through to Saturday’s quarterfinals at the Meridian Canadian Open.

Team Homan scored two sets of three-enders and stole a pair of points to cruise to an 8-3 victory over hometown favourites Team Robyn Silvernagle during Thursday’s A-finals to qualify for the playoffs with an undefeated 3-0 record.

The team of Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle have now won seven consecutive Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling games with a stellar 24-6 overall win-loss record in the series on the season.

“It feels great to know that we’re into the playoffs and to go A-side,” Weagle said. “The team’s been playing really well and just continuing what we were doing at the end of last year.”

Homan captured her record-tying ninth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title last month at the Boost National and is eyeing double digits, however, it wasn’t all business during the holiday break with the team getting a chance to relax before preparing for the Meridian Canadian Open.

“We had a really great time over the holidays,” Weagle said. “We all got to spend some time with our families. We had Emma’s wedding, which was really exciting. Then we regrouped and were able to practise together and really gear up for this event.”

Silvernagle started with the hammer but was held to just a single in the first. Homan counted her first trio in the third end and Silvernagle knotted it up with a deuce in four. It was all Homan from there for the final couple stanzas dropping another trey in five and stealing two in six when Silvernagle missed the runback on her last and shook hands.

Team Homan curled 91 per cent as a unit with the skip earning high marks firing at a 94 per cent rate.

“Both teams played really well,” Weagle said. “The crowd was really into it and cheering for both teams, which is nice when you’re playing against a hometown team. Both teams made some really good shots.”

The Meridian Canadian Open features a triple knockout bracket preliminary round where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead also went 3-0 to advance following an 8-5 victory over Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa. Silvernagle and Fujisawa (both 2-1 records) fell into the B Event finals.

Team Silvernagle will now take on Team Silvana Tirinzoni after the Swiss side clipped Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg 5-4. Team Fujisawa await the winner between Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., and Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker.

Defending champions Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., got back on track in the B-side with an 8-4 decision against Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones and are one win away from returning to the playoffs. Team Scheidegger meet Team Nina Roth in the third B-qualifier following the U.S. squad’s 9-7 extra-end victory over Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson.

Scheidegger (2-1) grabbed the lead with a four-ender in the second and tacked on a single steal in the third. Jones was unable to upend Scheidegger with her opponent matching every move. The nine-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s champion Jones took two points in the fourth, Scheidegger replied with a couple in the fifth, and the teams alternated singles in six and seven.

Robertson, Jones and Hasselborg all dropped into the C Event and must win out in order to stay in contention.

Three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) will join Homan and Muirhead in the playoffs.

Action resumes with Draw 9 at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international). The featured game is Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe colliding with Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fifth event and third major of the 2018-19 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 globe. … Standard Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling rules apply: games are played to eight ends, the five-rock rule is in effect and teams receive 33 minutes of thinking time plus two, 90-second timeouts. … The combined purse is $250,000 with the winning teams earning $30,000 plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup.

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