Eve Muirhead in action during the opening draw of the Humpty's Champions Cup on April 23, 2019, in Saskatoon. (Anil Mungal)

Muirhead off to perfect start with Team Hasselborg

April 23, 2019, 8:59 PM

SASKATOON — Team Anna Hasselborg from Sweden and Winnipeg’s Team Allison Flaxey kicked off the Humpty’s Champions Cup on Tuesday afternoon with neither Hasselborg nor Flaxey on the ice.

Multiple conflicts have led to several super spares filling in for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale at Merlis Belsher Place. Eve Muirhead from Scotland is subbing for Hasselborg while Edmonton’s Laura Walker has taken over for Flaxey.

The four-time Grand Slam champion Muirhead didn’t miss a beat throwing a perfect 100 percent in the 7-1 victory with her temporary teammates.

“That was so much fun,” Muirhead said. “It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of laughs out there. To start off with a win makes it even better definitely.”

Muirhead was making up for lost time on the ice as she recovered from hip surgery earlier this season and also hadn’t played since the Scottish Championship in February.

“I’ve had a lot of time at home to work on certain aspects of my delivery and things coming back from surgery,” Muirhead said. “It’s been a few good weeks for myself. To kick it off with a win, these girls made it really easy for me, which makes it always nice.”

There was no awkwardness playing for a rival team and Muirhead said it actually felt quite natural.

“We had no language barrier, which is good,” she said. “We had lots of good chats before to figure out what the best way of communication was and I think it worked out really well.”

Muirhead opened the scoring with a deuce in the second landing on the button with her first skip stone and drawing in another with her last. Walker rolled too far on her last in the fourth to give up a single steal stretching the gap to 3-0.

Walker’s draw for a single in the fifth was all the offence her team could muster. Muirhead hit for another deuce in six and stole two in seven when Walker’s runback attempt went sideways.

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Elsewhere in the opening draw, double defending champions Team Rachel Homan of Ottawa started with a 6-4 win over Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana. Jolene Campbell is subbing for Team Homan second Joanne Courtney.

Players’ Championship winners Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., scored a single in the eighth end to edge Russia’s Team Alina Kovaleva 6-5.

Team John Shuster of the United States, with Canadian skip John Morris filling in for Shuster, picked up a 7-2 victory over Japan’s Team Yuta Matsumura in the lone men’s game of the draw.

Round-robin action resumes at 8 p.m. CST.

Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 2 p.m. ET / Noon CST on Sportsnet with online streaming available via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

Notes: The Humpty’s Champions Cup is the seventh and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season featuring 15 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams who won high-profile events over the course of the season to qualify. … The total purse is $250,000, split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions, with the winners earning $40,000. … A new rule is being tested at the event where teams cannot perform tick shots on rocks sitting on the centre line during the eighth and extra ends.