Homan thrills to defeat Sinclair at GSOC Tour Challenge

Rachel Homan in action during the fourth round-robin draw of the Tour Challenge on Nov. 7, 2018, in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Rachel Homan just needed one point to defeat former teammate Jamie Sinclair during Wednesday’s afternoon round-robin draw at the Tour Challenge.

Why not score four instead?

Homan pulled off a tantalizing triple takeout to count four points and thrill the sold-out Tournament Centre crowd in the 7-3 victory to open her Ottawa team’s pool play schedule.

“That triple made it look kind of exciting,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “We only needed the one rock to go away. Game one is not always the prettiest in a new event, so we were a little bit up and down in that game. It was a little bit tricky out there so we tried to just stick shot-by-shot.

“Being tied coming home with hammer is a situation that we are very happy to be in, so we were happy on Rachel’s last. We knew as long as we made contact on those two rocks that we were going to be OK. She threw it great and made a crowd-pleaser by making a triple.”

Team Homan settled for a single in the second and stole back-to-back points in the third and fourth to lead 3-0 at the break. Team Sinclair, based in Chaska, U.S., mirrored the scoreline with a point in five and consecutive steals in six and seven to set up the tied scenario for the final frame.

“Definitely starting 1-0 feels nicer than starting 0-1,” Miskew said. “We’re happy to be on the scoreboard there and at least we’ve learned something going into the next one.”

Sinclair is a dual Canadian-American citizen from Manotick, Ont., and won the 2007 Canadian Winter Games gold medal while playing with Homan.

Elsewhere in the fourth round-robin draw, Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana stunned reigning world champions Team Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg 7-6.

“It feels great after our horrible game this morning,” said skip Isabella Wrana, who was crushed 9-1 by Winnipeg’s Team Allison Flaxey earlier. “We didn’t get off to a good start in our first game, so it felt really good to kind of have a little bit of control in this game instead.”

Wrana opened with a 4-0 advantage scoring three in the first and stealing one in the second. The 2017 world junior champion held a 6-2 lead after five, however, Jones knotted it up with a three-ender in six and a steal of one in seven. Wrana’s last in the eighth end was saved by a backer and counted for the upset victory.

“It’s a special feeling because before you’re a bit tense and then when you make it, it’s just, phew, nice,” Wrana said.

Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., scored four in the seventh to close out an 8-3 win over Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker and Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson held off Thunder Bay’s own Team Krista McCarville 7-4.

Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe scored three sets of deuces to top Winnipeg’s Team Braden Calvert 6-3 in the lone men’s match.

The Tour Challenge is the third event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring the largest field in the series with 60 teams split into two tiers of action. Tier 1 includes 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world. Both Tier 2 divisions are composed of the next 10 teams ranked on the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit plus five teams from within the event’s region.

Round-robin play runs through to Friday night with the top eight teams overall in each division qualifying for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semifinals are set for Saturday evening with all finals scheduled for Sunday.

TIER 2 RESULTS: Team Mark Fenner of Chaska, U.S., scored five in the first and rolled right past Team Dylan Johnston of Thunder Bay 10-2. Team Tanner Lott of Winnipeg Beach, Man., also reached double digits with a 10-4 victory over Team Colin Koivula of Thunder Bay. Team Tanner Horgan of Sudbury, Ont., picked up a 7-4 win against Team Andrew Stopera of Chaska, U.S.

Switzerland’s Team Binia Feltscher clipped Team Kira Brunton of Sudbury, Ont., 6-5 and Team Un-Chi Gim of South Korea stopped Regina’s Team Kristen Streifel 7-5.

NOTES: Winners of the Tour Challenge Tier 1 earn $25,000 of the $200,000 total purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup event. … Points are also up for grabs in the Tier 1 division towards the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April. … Tier 2 winners earn the opportunity to move up the ranks receiving invitations to the 2019 Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask.

UP NEXT: The Tour Challenge continues with the fifth draw at 7 p.m. ET at Thunder Bay Tournament Centre. Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

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