Jacobs escapes with win over Bottcher at GSOC Tour Challenge

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

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Brad Jacobs is back in the win column at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.

Jacobs and his crew from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., went winless at 0-4 through the Canadian Beef Masters two weeks ago but managed to steal a 5-4 victory from Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher during Wednesday’s afternoon action at the Tour Challenge.

With the score all square coming home in eight, Bottcher was looking to make a double with the last shot of the game, however, he missed the back one and conceded the match.

“It’s nice to break the losing streak,” said Jacobs, who has won three Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles. “I think we just did a really good job of hanging in there, grinding out the win and making him throw his last one. We got a good break and we’ll take it.”

Bottcher opened with the hammer and converted for a deuce on an open hit. Jacobs matched with an amazing manoeuvre in the third end squeezing through the port to chap and roll for his deuce to tie it.

“I think that was a little bit of a momentum swing for us,” Jacobs said. “Missing that shot would have hurt. It kept us in the game, I would say. It’s always nice to make a really tough one and have to be really precise. It felt good.”

Deuces were still wild with Bottcher replying in the fourth for another two count and Jacobs matching right back in five. The 2018 Brier silver medallist Bottcher blanked back-to-back ends in six and seven.

Team Jacobs has former Team Homan coach Adam Kingsbury behind the boards this week for a test run.

“He’s been great so far. He seems like a great guy and we’re trying him out this event,” Jacobs said. “We haven’t made any commitments or anything like that but we have been in close conversations with him and everyone seems to be getting along quite well.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll make a decision as to what we’re going to do, coach-wise, probably sometime this weekend but certainly from the psychological or mental aspect of the game, he’s a professional. We kind of all believe that’s what we need the most right now, so he brings a lot to the table.”

Elsewhere in the third draw, Toronto’s Team John Epping edged out Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson 8-5 to keep the hot streak running from their Canadian Beef Masters title victory.

“It’s always tough first game just to get a good feel of the ice,” Epping said. “You go from different surfaces a couple weeks ago and it’s a little different out here and just get a good feel so far.”

Trailing by one, Epping took over in the second half with a deuce in the fifth and a steal of two in the sixth to grab a 7-4 lead. Paterson could only muster a single in the seventh and Epping tacked on another in eight.

“We played pretty well early and got an unlucky break in two, a little bit of a device meltdown there and kind of led to a cheap deuce for them,” Epping said. “We didn’t play awesome in the middle but we hung in there and then we really finished strong, which we’ve done all year. We’ve played a lot good last four ends.”

Team Epping has 12-time Grand Slam champion Marc Kennedy, who stepped back from competitive curling after last season, helping out keeping an eye on the action this week.

“He’s just having a look and even though we just won a Slam, it’s always important to keep working,” Epping said. “An extra set of eyes and his eyes aren’t going to hurt our team to have a look this week. We’re really happy that he’s been able to watch a couple of games today.”

Team Rich Ruohonen from the United States scored three in the second and stole singles in the seventh and eighth to top Team Jason Gunnlaugson of Morris, Man., 7-4.

Team John Shuster of the United States have climbed to a 2-0 record already at the Tour Challenge. The reigning Olympic gold medallists scored three in the eighth end to clip Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers 7-5.

In women’s play, Team Nina Roth from the United States beat Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 6-4.

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: Toronto’s Team Charley Thomas topped Winnipeg’s Team Dennis Bohn 8-5. Winnipeg’s Team William Lyburn beat Team Jordan Chandler of Sudbury, Ont., 5-2. Saskatoon’s Team Kirk Muyres thumped Team Tuck of Strathroy, Ont., 8-3.

In women’s action, Team Susan Froud of Waterloo, Ont., defeated Team Annmarie Dubberstein of the United States 9-4 and Toronto’s Team Jacqueline Harrison scored a 6-4 win over Halifax’s Team Mary-Anne Arsenault 6-4.

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 fourth draw at 3 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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