Ryan Fry (left) and Brad Jacobs (right) discuss strategy during the third draw of the Meridian Canadian Open on Jan. 9, 2019, in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Jacobs falls to De Cruz in 1st game with Fry back

January 9, 2019, 4:14 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Team Brad Jacobs welcomed Ryan Fry back to the lineup for the Meridian Canadian Open but couldn’t upend defending champions Team Peter de Cruz to start the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling major event.

Jacobs and his crew from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., lost 6-5 to the Swiss side during the third draw Wednesday afternoon at North Battleford’s Civic Centre.

The 40-year-old Fry, who threw a team-high 97 per cent in his return, took a leave of absence following an incident in November during the Red Deer Curling Classic. Fry was sparing with Jamie Koe’s team, who were kicked out of the event due to unsportsmanlike behaviour. The World Curling Tour fined Fry $1,000 for his actions.

Team Jacobs called upon Marc Kennedy to sub at the Canada Cup last month and helped the squad win the event. Matt Wozniak filled in at second the following weekend during the Boost National with E.J. Harnden moving up a spot to third.

De Cruz opened with the hammer and never trailed converting to score a deuce in the second end. Jacobs had to play catch up from there with the teams alternating singles in three and four and the 2014 Olympic gold medallist making an angle raise for another lone point in five.

Another deuce from De Cruz in the sixth extended the lead 5-2, however, Jacobs got the equalizing three count in the seventh to knot it up. Team De Cruz fourth Benoit Schwarz pulled off the clutch come-around tap to score the winner in the final frame.

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Elsewhere in the third draw, Matt Dunstone scored two points in the eighth end to lift his Regina-based team to a 5-4 victory over Winnipeg’s Braden Calvert.

In women’s play, North Battleford’s own Team Robyn Silvernagle scored three in the seventh end to upset Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., 6-3. Silvernagle received the sponsor’s exemption spot to enter the event.

Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones scored four in the seventh to close out an 8-2 win over Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana and Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead topped Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg 7-2.

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 4 at North Battleford’s Civic Centre at 3 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.