Ryan Fry off to solid start in return to Team Jacobs at Canadian Open

Team Jacobs goes about their business with a Rocky Balboa mentality. For these curlers it's not about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can take a hit and still get back up.

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Ryan Fry is back and making up for lost time with Team Brad Jacobs.

Fry, who missed two events while taking a leave of absence, pitched a pair of nearly perfect games Wednesday at the Meridian Canadian Open in his comeback event with the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., squad.

Team Jacobs splitting their matches to start the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event. The 40-year-old Fry threw 97 per cent in a 6-5 loss to Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz during the morning/early afternoon draw while firing at a 96 per cent clip for their 7-3 victory over Saskatoon’s Team Rylan Kleiter in the evening.

Jacobs remains in the B brackets of the triple knockout preliminary round where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs.

“The guys are three of my best buddies, so I missed them and it was great to be back out there,” Fry said. “We’ll take it. We played a pretty good day. De Cruz this morning played very well against us so they got us but we came back and it’s nice to get this win here tonight.”

Fry said the scorekeepers may have been a bit lenient with the numbers in the morning, but he believes he earned it in the evening.

“I’ve been spending the last six weeks really trying, on top of other things, to get my game together and I felt like I’ve done that,” he said. “Hopefully, I can continue on through the weekend.”

Jacobs and his cousins E.J. and Ryan Harnden welcomed Fry, who is originally from Winnipeg, into the fold like he was a member of the family in 2012 and helped them reach the pinnacle of the sport. Team Jacobs captured the Brier and world championship silver medal in their first season with Fry and ran the table at the Canadian Olympic curling trials in December 2013 to earn the right to wear the Maple Leaf at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games where they captured the gold medal.

Team Jacobs won their fourth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title at the Tour Challenge Tier 1 in early November.

Fry spared with Jamie Koe’s crew the following weekend at the Red Deer Curling Classic and the team was kicked out of the event due to unsportsmanlike behaviour on and off of the ice. The World Curling Tour reviewed the incident and issued Fry a $1,000 fine.

Fry apologized and announced he would be stepping back for a bit from the game.

Marc Kennedy, a winner of 12 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles, filled in for Fry during the Canada Cup in December and helped Team Jacobs continue their winning streak capturing the title. Seven-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Matt Wozniak subbed at second the following weekend at the Boost National with E.J. Harnden moving up to third. Team Jacobs remained red-hot going undefeated at 4-0 through round-robin play until losing to Team Glenn Howard in the quarterfinals.

There was no problem for Fry sliding back into the lineup and keeping the pace.

“I was very ecstatic to see them do so well in the Canada Cup and continue on into the National in Newfoundland, so nothing but excitement for them,” Fry said. “Hopefully with me back, we can continue the success they did without me.”

Team Jacobs hired mental coach Adam Kingsbury, formerly with Rachel Homan’s team, earlier this season and Fry said he’s been a great addition, especially now as they head into a busy stretch.

“Since we’ve brought him on at the start of the year, he’s done nothing but good things for us,” Fry said. “He’s great at what he does but he also brings this calming confidence to our team. We’ve got a long second half of the season and we’re just hoping to build on that for provincials and Brier.”

The Meridian Canadian Open action resumes Thursday with Draw 6 at North Battleford’s Civic Centre at 8 a.m. local time. Broadcast coverage begins with Draw 7 at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

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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