Silvernagle sharp to secure playoff spot in hometown Canadian Open

Kara Thevenot, Stefanie Lawton, Robyn Silvernagle and Jessie Hunkin celebrate after qualifying for the playoffs at the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 11, 2019, in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Hometown favourites Team Robyn Silvernagle have secured a playoff spot in the Meridian Canadian Open.

Team Silvernagle (3-1) shrugged off a loss to world No. 1 ranked Team Rachel Homan from the day before with the skip firing at a sharp 89 per cent Friday to stun Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 8-4 in the B Event finals at Civic Centre to advance.

Silvernagle said it felt amazing to qualify on home ice and having the stands packed with school kids cheering her team on.

“The crowd was electric this morning,” said Silvernagle, who earned the sponsor’s exemption spot for the tournament. “It was incredible having all of those kids cheering and the fans cheering when some great shots were made. It was a lot of fun.”

“They’re loud and the teachers and chaperones that brought them, they know the game of curling, so they were very good about the etiquette as well,” she added. “That was pretty cool.”

Silvernagle broke a 1-1 tie in the third end with authority pulling off a double takeout to score a key three points. The pressure was on for Team Tirinzoni fourth Alina Paetz in the fourth end forced to make a difficult draw for a single while facing a whopping five counters. Silvernagle put the game out of reach in five with a tap to score four and Tirinzoni took two in six then shook hands.

“We just felt like we needed to get back into our groove on how we were playing and I felt like we did a really good job of that,” Silvernagle said. “We did a good job with our rock placement and the big ends come. You don’t always expect those but we’ll take them.”

Although it’s Silvernagle’s first top-tier Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling major event, new third Stefanie Lawton is no stranger to series having captured the 2012 Players’ Championship as a skip. Silvernagle said it’s great having the four-time provincial champion Lawton on board this season.

“She is just so calm and confident and I love playing with her,” Silvernagle said. “She’s been a great addition to our team for sure.”

The Meridian Canadian Open is the only one of the seven Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments to feature triple knockout — instead of round-robin pools — where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker and Team Nina Roth of the United States also qualified via B at 3-1 joining A-side winners Team Eve Muirhead of Scotland and Homan of Ottawa (both 3-0) in the playoffs.

Walker topped Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa 8-6 and Roth pulled off a 5-4 victory over Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta. Tirinzoni, Fujisawa and Scheidegger (all 2-2) dropped to the last-chance C Event finals.

Matt Dunstone (2-1) was in the driver’s seat as his Regina-based team cruised to a 10-2 victory over Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson to stay alive in the C Event. Winnipeg’s Braden Calvert (2-1) also made it into the men’s C Event finals after ousting Team Scott McDonald of Kingston, Ont., 8-5.

Action continues with the 12th draw at 4 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. CT with broadcast coverage 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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