Rachel Homan delivers a rock during the fourth draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 9, 2019, in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Homan solves Walker to win at Canadian Open

January 9, 2019, 8:20 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — New year, same Team Rachel Homan.

The Ottawa-based club, who have won the past two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events, kicked off their run at the Meridian Canadian Open once again in the win column defeating Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker 8-5.

Even with a three-ender in the second end though, it still came down to the wire after Walker climbed back with some steals and took a one-point lead heading into the final frame. Homan connected with her last rock and added some insurance scoring four.

“It always nice to take a three, we’ll always take that, but they made a lot of great shots and set up a couple steal points for them,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “We were in tough and it was a really close game. We just had a nice one in the last end there.”

Miskew explained how the team was trying to learn the ice being that it was their first game of the event and they managed to solve Walker in the end.

“We were figuring it out, first game of an event, you’re always trying to figure it out,” Miskew said. “We set up a good last end there. It feels good to pull off a win.”

Homan captured the Tour Challenge Tier 1 title in November and earned her record-tying ninth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s championship last month at the Boost National. It was an exciting holiday break for the club as Miskew got married and Homan announced on social media she is expecting a baby in June.

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Meanwhile, Team Glenn Howard (2-0) of Penetanguishene, Ont., reached the A-finals on the men’s side with a 4-2 win over Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin. Howard will play Team Bruce Mouat (2-0) for a playoff spot after the Scottish squad topped Toronto’s Team John Epping 6-3. Both Edin and Epping now hold 1-1 records and dropped into the B brackets.

Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., had another grind through an extra end but with the hammer made no mistake on the draw to the four-foot circle to edge Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 4-3. Gushue (1-1) lost to Howard in an extra end during Tuesday’s opener.

“It was nice to have the hammer in the extra end and to have a draw, it was nice,” Gushue said. “The ice is great here. We’re playing well, it’s just the teams we’re playing against are really playing well as well. Glenn’s team last night played extremely solid. Glenn, I thought, played phenomenally and today Jason’s team played really well. We got a couple misses on a couple of Jason’s but it’s a battle. People are playing good.”

Gushue is feeling rejuvenated for the second half of the season after taking about two-and-a-half weeks off following the Boost National.

“I didn’t start throwing until after New Year’s,” Gushue said. “It really helped, from my body’s standpoint, getting that recovered. After a couple days practice, I was able to get it back pretty good, so I feel comfortable. I feel healthy, so I’m looking forward to the second half.”

It was a rematch of the Tour Challenge Tier 2 men’s final but no repeat as Team Scott McDonald (1-1) of Kingston, Ont., scored five in the third and beat Team Kirk Muyres of Saskatoon 8-3 in a B-side battle. Muyres and Gunnlaugson (identical 0-2 records) fell to the C event where they will face off with elimination on the line.

The Meridian Canadian Open features a triple knockout bracket preliminary round where teams must win three games before they lose three in order to qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semis are also set for Saturday with the finals scheduled Sunday.

Action continues with Draw 5 at North Battleford’s Civic Centre at 7 p.m. CT. Broadcast coverage begins Thursday on Sportsnet.

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.