Val Sweeting throws a stone during the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Sweeting, Tirinzoni slide into Canadian Open playoffs

January 5, 2017, 8:11 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — It was a day of thievery for Val Sweeting at the Meridian Canadian Open.

The Edmonton native swiped a point in an extra end to edge Bingyu Wang of China 6-5 during Thursday’s morning draw then rode the steal train to a 6-3 victory over Jacqueline Harrison of Mississauga, Ont., in the afternoon to wrap up the A-side of the triple knockout at 3-0 and qualify for the playoffs.

“We had some really good battles out there,” said Sweeting, who won her second career Grand Slam title earlier this season at the Tour Challenge Tier 1. “We grinded one earlier today and the team played really well in the A-final there.”

The A-final didn’t start out great for Sweeting as she opened with hammer but conceded two points in the first end. Sweeting took two back in the second and then out came the steals swiping points in three consecutive ends to lead 5-2. The teams alternated singles in six and seven and Sweeting made a double with her last in eight to run Harrison out of options.

“It was unfortunate to give up two in the first end,” Sweeting said. “I tried a shot and it was just unlucky to give up a steal of two but I think that the girls battled back really well. We figured out the ice and they had some really good sweeps out there. They really made a lot for me and I think that it was a good game.”

Sweeting credits her teammates — lead Rachel Brown, second Dana Ferguson and third Lori Olson-Johns — for getting through that one.

“Rachel and Dana set up a really good end and Lori and I were just guarding in that game,” Sweeting said. “There were a couple situations going away that we got into a bit of trouble but then we’d make a nice hit-and-roll or something like that and that’s what you have to do out there, you have to make those. I’m really proud of the team and how we came out.”

Team Sweeting now has a bit of a break until Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals but will keep an eye out on the action and the ice conditions.

“We have almost like two days off until the quarters,” Sweeting said. “We’ll just get some rest, watch some curling and stay on top of the ice. It’s been fantastic but you just have to watch and see what happens going into the weekend. Just kind of stay into it too.

“We’ve been in this situation before. It’s good practice for our provincials too because it’s a similar format where you do have a day off, so we’ll definitely look at what we’re doing and carry it into our provincials.”

Harrison earned a spot at the Meridian Canadian Open by winning the Tour Challenge Tier 2 title two months ago in Cranbrook, B.C.

Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland also made it straight through to the playoffs at 3-0 following an 8-3 win over Michelle Englot’s team from Winnipeg.

“We hate losing so it’s better,” Tirinzoni said with a laugh. “I like it so much better to win so it’s great.”

Tirinzoni broke a 1-1 tie with a deuce in the third, forced Englot to one in the fourth and then counted three in the fifth to lead by four. It was textbook curling as Tirinzoni limited Englot to one in six and took two in seven.

“It is [a bit different] but you’re never out with that five-rock rule so you just have to keep the pressure on them and make some great shots otherwise it’s so easy they’ll suddenly score three and they’re back in the game,” Tirinzoni said. “We just have to keep playing, concentrate and make a lot of shots.”

Five-time Grand Slam champion Cathy Overton-Clapham is filling in at third again on Team Tirinzoni with Manuela Siegrist out following knee surgery. Overton-Clapham helped Tirinzoni finish runner-up at the Boost National last month.

Harrison and Englot fell to 2-1 records and can still qualify with wins in the B-side.

Meridian Canadian Open: Scores | Teams | TKO Brackets | Draw Schedule | TV Schedule | Watch Online

Elsewhere, Jennifer Jones held on for a 6-5 win over Kerri Einarson in a B-side battle of Winnipeg teams.

WFG Masters champ Allison Flaxey of Caledon, Ont., powered past Winnipeg’s Briane Meilleur 11-5.

In men’s action, defending champ John Epping of Toronto is staying wild in the C-side taking a 6-3 set over Scotland’s Kyle Smith. Epping (1-2) still needs to win two consecutive games to qualify while Smith (0-3) is out of the tournament.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … Winners of the Meridian Canadian Open earn spots for the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place at the end of April in Calgary.