Chelsea Carey delivers a stone during the opening round-robin draw of the Humpty's Champions Cup on April 24, 2018, in Calgary. (Anil Mungal)

Carey cruises to victory in Champions Cup opener

April 24, 2018, 11:34 PM

CALGARY — Chelsea Carey was just a spectator at the Humpty’s Champions Cup a year ago but made up for lost time in the season finale Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament Tuesday.

Carey kicked off her hometown event at WinSport Arena with a decisive 7-2 victory Tuesday night over a depleted Team Fujisawa of Japan.

“It’s a beautiful arena and it was lots of fun to watch last year but it’s tough to not be out there,” Carey said. “It feels a lot better being on the other side this time.”

Patience was a virtue for Carey, who led 2-1 after three with singles going steady to start and stole away the game from the short-handed Fujisawa squad swiping two points in the fourth and three in the fifth.

“It was a really well-played game for the first three ends,” Carey said. “We thought we had a deuce set up a couple times. She made an absolute pistol double run double in the first end to take it away from us, so we felt like we were playing pretty well but it was kind of 1-1-1 so we just stayed patient, placed a couple of draws pretty well in four and got a break.

“You expect her to make that shot and she didn’t, so a steal of two and cruised from there.”

Team Fujisawa added a single in the sixth and shook hands early.

The Olympic bronze medallists are without skip Satsuki Fujisawa, who is overseas competing in the world mixed doubles championship. Lead Yurika Yoshida is also not playing due to injury. Alternate Mari Motohashi has come off of the bench to throw the middle stones with second Yumi Suzuki starting the lineup and third Chinami Yoshida calling the game for the trio.

The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the seventh and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament of the 2017-18 campaign featuring 15 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams who won events over the course of the season in order to receive invitations. Teams play four round-robin games through the week with the top eight overall advancing to the weekend playoffs.

Team Carey, who claimed the Meridian Candian Open for their spot, are also playing their final event together with the foursome heading in separate directions for the next Olympic cycle. Carey has formed a new lineup with third Sarah Wilkes (Team Kleibrink), second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown (Team Sweeting). Second Jocelyn Peterman is joining Jennifer Jones’s club in Winnipeg while third Cathy Overton-Clapham and lead Laine Peters have yet to announce their plans.

Carey said it’s a nice way to finish off their tenure together on home ice.

“It’s really cool to play in Calgary,” Carey said. “We don’t get to do that very often so you send out the note to everyone who’s asked you when you’re going to curl in Calgary and that kind of thing.”

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Elsewhere, Players’ Championship victor Jamie Sinclair scored two in the seventh and stole one in the eighth to complete a 4-3 come-from-behind win versus Olympic gold medallist Anna Hasselborg of Sweden. Sinclair became the first American to capture a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title earlier this month in Toronto.

Scotland’s Eve Muirhead downed Delia DeJong of Grande Prairie, Alta., 8-2.

In men’s play, Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson upended hometown hero Kevin Koe in a 6-3 set.

Gunnlaugson opened with the hammer and converted by drawing for a deuce in the opening end.

The Tour Challenge Tier 2 winner extended his lead to 3-0 with a steal in the second after Koe rolled heavy on his last. Koe, who went undefeated 8-0 to take the Players’ Championship men’s title, erased the deficit raising one of his own in for two in the third and stealing one in the fourth as Gunnlaugson missed the angle on a raise.

Gunnlaugson bounced back hitting for two in the fifth, stole one in the sixth and held on from there.

“I think the biggest key to this game was Jason played unbelievable,” Team Gunnlaugson lead Connor Njegovan said. “Jason and [third Alex Forrest] played really well and Jay made some really, really, really good key shots to keep us in our game.”

Njegovan said it’s great to have his former skip Matt Dunstone subbing for Ian McMillan at second on the squad this week.

“Honestly, I haven’t seen him a whole lot this curling season,” said Njegovan, who played with Dunstone last season. “He’s a really good buddy of mine and in my wedding this year, so it’s good just to have a week where we can hang out and I can beat him in some NHL all week.”

Saskatoon’s Colton Flasch picked up a 7-4 victory over Marc Pfister of Switzerland.

Round-robin action resumes Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. MT at WinSport Arena. Television coverage begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET (Noon MT) on Sportsnet with online streaming available at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare TV (international).