CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan needed some thievery to get by Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., in their first group game Wednesday at the Boost National.
Homan stole two in the first frame and another point in the fifth during a 5-3 victory over Scheidegger.
“To be able to start the bonspiel with a W really helps because the field is so strong,” Team Homan second Joanne Courtney said. “We’ve got a really tough pool. We felt like we like the ice, we put our rocks in good spots. Scheidegger is a great team so it felt really good out there.”
Team Homan has now won eight consecutive games in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling after running the table last month at the Tour Challenge. It was Homan’s eighth career title win in the series.
It’s been a busy stretch for Team Homan as they entered the event right from finishing third at the Canada Cup in Estevan, Sask.
“We really tried to maximize our rest for the last couple of days,” Courtney said. “St. John’s is such a beautiful city. We didn’t have to go too far to find great restaurants. We’ve had some awesome fresh cod and we’ve had some great rest, so we feel really good. We’re pumped to be playing eight ends again and to be back here at the Grand Slam.”
Boost also happens to be one of Team Homan’s sponsor’s although Courtney isn’t feeling any extra pressure but rather feeling, well, a boost.
“Honestly, it feels like you have a little bit of an extra help, kind of like a fifth player on the ice with you,” Courtney said. “Boost is just such a fantastic sponsor. They’re so supportive of our team and we’re so proud to be their team. It feels great to be out there, we feel boosted and ready to go, and we’re really pumped to be here.”
Although Homan didn’t open with the hammer, Scheidegger surrendered the two-count as her last rock sailed through the house untouched. Scheidegger recovered from that one though and took two right back drawing for a deuce in the second stanza.
Homan settled for a single in four to reclaim the lead and extended her advantage to 4-2 when Scheidegger came up way light on her final rock in five.
“Uncharacteristic misses I thought today,” Courtney said. “Just a couple of them and that could be the difference in a close game.”
A triple takeout from Homan in the sixth end prevented a multiple score from Scheidegger, who was forced to draw for a single instead. Homan, who threw 91 percent in the match, managed to pull off a runback double takeout to blank the seventh and retain the hammer coming home where she drew with her last to tack another point on the board.
“She’s throwing those peels so well right now,” Courtney said about the seventh-end blank. “We talked about it and we would have preferred to give up a steal that end instead of getting forced, so it was a relatively low-pressure shot and she threw it great and it was awesome. It made a big difference.”
— Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling (@grandslamcurl) December 12, 2018
Elsewhere, reigning Olympic gold medallists Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden edged Edmonton’s Team Chelsea Carey 4-3.
In men’s play, Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers scored four in the seventh and doubled up on Team Scott McDonald of Kingston, Ont., 8-4 to get back into the victory column after going winless at the Canada Cup.
“Obviously, it feels pretty good,” Carruthers said. “Not winning a game in the Canada Cup obviously stun a little bit, so to start off this bonspiel with a win is a great start.”
It’s Team Carruthers in name only as they’re sticking with fourth Mike McEwen at skip once more. Carruthers, who is now playing a traditional third role, let McEwen call the shots during the Ashley HomeStore Curling Classic in Penticton, B.C., just prior to the Canada Cup. McEwen won seven Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles skipping his former squad before joining Team Carruthers this season.
“It was just one of those things we had talked about before season started, just trying combos if we weren’t getting the success yet,” Carruthers said. “We’ve had that up-and-down season. We’ve been in a bit of a skid, obviously not qualifying, so for us it was time to try something different.
“In Penticton, we actually curled really well. Obviously, had a bit of a stinker in the Canada Cup but we’re off to a good start here.”
McDonald, who lost to Team Brad Jacobs in the first draw Tuesday night, dropped to a 0-2 record.
Toronto’s Team John Epping stole away in the second half to score a 6-2 win over Saskatoon’s Team Kirk Muyres. Down by one at the fourth-end break, Epping pirated a pair of points in the fifth and swiped singles in three remaining ends.
Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson counted three in the seventh and stole two in the eighth for an 8-5 victory over Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland. Schwaller’s record is level at 1-1 after upsetting home-province heroes Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s in Tuesday’s opener.
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 4:30 p.m. local time.
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.