Team de Cruz celebrates after winning 5-2 over Team Jacobs in the Meridian Canadian Open semifinals on Jan. 21, 2018, in Camrose, Alta. (Anil Mungal)

De Cruz meets Edin for Canadian Open men’s title

January 21, 2018, 2:28 AM

CAMROSE, Alta. — Today was a good day for Peter de Cruz.

After winning his first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling playoff game Saturday afternoon defeating Team Brendan Bottcher 7-6, de Cruz topped that by beating Brad Jacobs 5-2 in the evening to reach his first-ever final in the series.

“Crazy,” de Cruz said. “We were coming into the week, we had just played in the Continental Cup and didn’t play that well as a team there. We didn’t really have any high expectations and that shows that when you don’t have any expectations, crazy things can happen.”

The Meridian Canadian Open was tabbed as a preview of the upcoming Winter Games and the men’s championship match is going to be just that between the Swiss representative de Cruz and Sweden’s Niklas Edin, who edged Canada’s own Olympic squad Team Kevin Koe 6-5 in an extra end.

De Cruz opened the semifinal with a steal in the first when Jacobs jammed a runback. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jacobs was in chase mode from there and drew for a point in the second to tie it.

Team de Cruz fourth Benoit Schwarz drew for two in the third and Jacobs misfired another runback in the fourth to make it a 4-1 game. The teams split singles in five and six, Jacobs blanked the seventh but ran out of options in the eighth.

“I think Brad missed two or three shots really by a centimetre but barely, barely missed,” said de Cruz, who throws second in the lineup. “We got a few lucky breaks but we put the rocks in the right places. I think that in the end we played better than them and deserved to win.”

Meanwhile, Edin and Koe engaged in a tight back-and-forth battle. Edin eased his last of the second in the house for two points, but Koe replied right back with a hit and light roll to score a deuce to tie it.

After matching singles in four and five, Koe went ahead 4-3 with a steal in six. Edin pulled back into the lead with another pair of points in seven and limited Koe to just another single in eight to require an extra end but hold the hammer.

Koe drew to sit shot stone on his last, Edin followed the line and used the counter for backing.

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The Karlstad-based club qualified via the C-side with an extra-end victory over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and also needed overtime to solve Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in the quarterfinals.

“We didn’t have the best start of the week,” third Oskar Eriksson said. “Playing against [John] Shuster, we had extra end with hammer and missed that shot. We were really just happy to get the hammer in all of these three games in the extra end and felt confident making that last draw.”

Lead Christoffer Sundgren hasn’t been feeling well this week forcing Team Edin to make some small adjustments. Sundgren is now in the house during skip stones with Eriksson picking up extra sweeping duties.

“It’s nice to mix it up a little bit and see the game from a different angle,” said Eriksson, who earned an Olympic bronze medal as Edin’s alternate in 2014. “I think it’s very good for the future for us.”

“Hopefully, he’s going to be healthy going into the Olympics,” he added. “It’s just a bad cough and really hurts when he sweeps. Just going to try to make it a good game and hopefully have a shot to win tomorrow.”

The de Cruz vs. Edin tilt is the second consecutive international men’s final in the series with Mouat topping Chang-Min Kim of South Korea at the BOOST National. Team Edin missed that tournament as they were busy winning the European Championship again and Eriksson said it feels amazing and awesome to not only reach another Grand Slam final but to face a fellow European crew as well.

“I think it’s very good for the sport,” Eriksson said. “The last few years it’s been more and more international teams coming to these events, playing good curling and beating the Canadian teams. We saw the final when we played the Europeans with Mouat against Kim. It was a great final and just wanted to be there but we still had to play the Europeans. Hopefully we can make it a great final tomorrow.”

Edin is a three-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion winning his trio of titles in 2016-17 to also secure the Bonus Cup.

The women’s final between Calgary’s Chelsea Carey and Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot goes down Sunday at Encana Arena at 10:30 a.m. MT (12:30 p.m. ET) followed by the men’s final at 2:30 p.m. MT (4:30 p.m. ET). Watch on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or (international).

The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth tournament — and third major — of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. The preliminary round featured a triple knockout format where teams had to win three games before they lost three in order to qualify for the playoffs.

NOTES: Winners of the Meridian Canadian Open earn berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup running April 24-29 at Calgary’s WinSport Arena. … Points are also up for grabs for the Bonus Cup, awarded to the overall season champions.