Rachel Homan in action during the Humpty's Champions Cup semifinals in Calgary. (Anil Mungal)

Homan to face Hasselborg in Champions Cup final

April 30, 2017, 12:20 AM

CALGARY — It was no hammer, no problem for Ottawa’s Rachel Homan in the Humpty’s Champions Cup semifinals Saturday night.

The reigning world champion never held the hammer once and rode the steal train all the way to a 5-0 shutout over Switzerland’s Alina Paetz to punch her ticket to Sunday’s final at WinSport Arena.

Watch the women’s final Sunday on Sportsnet at Noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or gsoc.yaretv.com (international)

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“They were playing it pretty open the first couple ends,” Team Homan third Emma Miskew said. “Well, the second end they went for it and we managed to get out of it and from there we just made her play really tough shots. It’s not easy to make precision shots so we got a couple. She was really close to making some but she missed them and we stole the game away. It was pretty exciting and we’re really happy.”

Paetz, who entered the game with a 5-0 record, couldn’t get things going as she opened with back-to-back blanks and gave up the first steal in the third. The 2015 world champ conceded another in four as she raised her guard, but connected with her own stone in the house, leaving Homan’s shot-rock counter untouched.

It was another opportunity lost for the Paetz in five as she ran back her own to hit a Homan counter, however, it jammed and rolled in to stick around for shot stone.

Homan stole a fourth one in six as Paetz continued to struggle and hit off her own to get to Homan’s rock, but it jammed and stayed. Another swiped point on the board in seven brought out the handshakes.

Homan, Miskew and lead Lisa Weagle are playing without second Joanne Courtney this week as she was off representing Canada at the world mixed doubles championship with Reid Carruthers. Courtney and Carruthers earned a silver medal to qualify Canada in the sport for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Sarah Wilkes, an Alberta provincial champion with Team Kleibrink, has been filling in at second.

“She’s awesome,” Miskew said. “She’s fit in really nice. We obviously miss Joanne but we’re really happy Sarah was able to step in and fill the void a little bit of us missing our teammate.”

Paetz qualified for the season-ending Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event as the 15th and final seed. The WestJet Players’ Championship was the last direct berth, but when defending Champions Cup winner Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg claimed that, it opened up a spot for another tour event winner, which went to Paetz for capturing the International Bernese Ladies Cup.

It was a career-best finish for Paetz in the Pinty’s GSOC series as she hadn’t made it to the semifinals previously.

Homan will play Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, who reached her first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final following four semifinal exits this season alone in a breakout year on tour.

Hasselborg kicked down the door to enter the championship game party with a commanding 7-2 victory over Jacqueline Harrison of Mississauga, Ont.

“It feels amazing,” said Hasselborg, who defeated Homan for gold at the 2010 world junior championship. “Before the season we had just played one Slam and we’ve been in the semis now for a couple of them. We really wanted to break the barrier of the semifinal losses. I’m so happy, I’m so proud of the team’s performance for the whole day.”

Hasselborg is supported by third Sara McManus, second Agnes Knochenhauer and lead Sofia Mabergs.

Harrison fell into trouble in the second with Hasselborg sitting first, second and third shot plus a trio of counters lined up horizontally across the top of the house to shut the front door. Harrison drew through a port, but was heavy and missed the mark as Hasselborg stole a few.

A single in three put Harrison on the board. Hasselborg matched with a point in the fourth after a measurement and extended it to a five-point advantage with a steal in the fifth as Harrison wrecked on a guard. Harrison hit a double to get another single in six and shook hands when Hasselborg tallied another point in seven.

It’s been a long year for Hasselborg, who started the season during the first week in September winning the Oakville OCT Fall Classic, and she said to bookend it with her first Pinty’s GSOC title would be the icing on the cake.

“We’ve had an amazing season and we’ve grown so much as a team,” Hasselborg said. “I think this final just shows that, so I hope to play good and hope that is enough.”

Earlier Saturday, Homan eliminated Jones in the quarterfinals to ensure there would be a new women’s champ at the event while Hasselborg topped Edmonton’s Val Sweeting.

Meanwhile, Calgary’s own Kevin Koe will play for the men’s title after making an unbelievable runback double takeout to score three on the final shot of the game, and with the clock winding down, to defeat Sweden’s Niklas Edin 6-4.

Watch the men’s final Sunday on Sportsnet One and 360 at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or gsoc.yaretv.com (international)

Koe looked to break a 2-2 tie with an angle raise double to score three in the fourth, but didn’t get the right degree and only took out one counter as the other stuck around for shot stone and a steal. The teams split singles in six and seven with Koe holding the hammer coming home down one but completing the comeback.

Koe clashes with Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., who outduelled Toronto’s John Epping 9-5 in a curling clinic.

Jacobs was heavy on his first skip stone in the opening end and Epping drew to lie four. Jacobs fired an angle raise at the cluster to only give up two. The 2014 Olympic gold medallist Jacobs came back with a deuce in the second.

Epping made a stunning shot in the third to go around the horn and up to the button to score a deuce. The shooting gallery continued with Jacobs hitting in and off for a pair in the fourth to make it all square 4-4.

Epping continued the thriller bumping back three counters in a row to leave his other rock as shot stone for a single. Jacobs controlled the sixth though and made an open draw for three and the lead. The momentum stayed with Jacobs as Epping conceded a steal of two in seven and shook hands.

The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the seventh and final event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. Teams had to win high-profile tournaments during the year in order to receive invites.