Robyn Silvernagle slides with a stone during the 12th round-robin draw of the Humpty's Champions Cup on April 26, 2019, in Saskatoon. (Anil Mungal)

Silvernagle slides into Champions Cup playoffs

April 26, 2019, 8:35 PM

SASKATOON — Team Robyn Silvernagle had the home-province crowd in a frenzy Friday afternoon as they qualified for the Humpty’s Champions Cup women’s quarterfinals.

Team Silvernagle, from North Battleford, Sask., finished round-robin play with a 3-1 record to secure a playoff spot following a commanding 9-2 victory over Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones.

It is only Silvernagle’s third top-tier Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event and qualified for the third consecutive time after the Meridian Canadian Open in her hometown in January and the Players’ Championship earlier this month in Toronto.

“It feels awesome,” Silvernagle said. “We were kinda rolling after Toronto, so it was nice to keep that going. We had one little blip but that happens. We performed really well yesterday and today.”

The #SilverSquad was in full force with a near-capacity crowd on hand at Merlis Belsher Place cheering on the Saskatchewan provincial champions.

“Every time they cheer, those cowbells are awesome,” Silvernagle said. “All the signs that everyone has is incredible and we’re just loving the support. We really appreciate all the support that we’ve been getting.”

Silvernagle swiped the momentum right off the bat by stealing three points in the first as Jones came up light on her last. Although it was a fast start, Silvernagle wasn’t going to ease up on the pressure valve.

“It’s still a long game, we still had seven ends, so we still had to be patient and wait and not think the game is over because you’re playing Jennifer Jones, who loves rocks in play,” Silvernagle said. “Just stick to our game plan and go from there.”

After the teams alternated singles in two and three, Silvernagle stole another one in the fourth end with her rock all blocked up and Jones creating a chain reaction but unable to connect with the shot stone.

Jones was limited to just a single in five and her final rock of the sixth end sailed straight through the house without hitting anything allowing Silvernagle to draw for four bringing out early handshakes.

The nine-time Grand Slam champion Jones, who won the inaugural Humpty’s Champions Cup title in 2016, ended pool play with a 2-2 record and will return to the ice immediately for the next draw in a tiebreaker against Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta.

Russia’s Team Alina Kovaleva and Team Jamie Sinclair of the United States also meet in an evening tiebreaker.

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Meanwhile, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan is all tuned up for the quarterfinals finishing round-robin play at the top of the table at 4-0. Homan scored four in the third during an 8-3 victory over Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey (2-2).

“I couldn’t have predicted that coming in here this week but the team’s playing unreal,” skip Rachel Homan said. “It felt really good this week and hopefully, we can continue into the playoffs. We’ve got a big game Saturday.”

Homan said it’s been great having Jolene Campbell fill in at second for Joanne Courtney, who is pregnant and resting at home.

“She’s been awesome and it’s not easy to just step into a brand-new team that you’ve never played with and swept with, so it’s been great,” Homan said. “She’s jumped right in and we really needed some help. I know Joanne is at home resting up, so it’s been great to have her out here.”

The Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions Carey will clash with Winnipeg’s Team Alli Flaxey, who have Edmonton’s Laura Walker subbing at skip, in a morning tiebreaker.

World champions Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland topped Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 7-3 as both squads are through to the quarterfinals.

Sweden’s Team Isabella Wrana finished on a high note defeating Team Min Ji Kim of South Korea 7-5. Both clubs were eliminated with 1-3 records.

The only women’s quarterfinal match set is Silvernagle vs. Tirinzoni with Homan, Einarson and Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg, who have Scotland’s Eve Muirhead subbing at skip, awaiting the tiebreaker winners.

In men’s play, Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin took two in the eighth end for the wild 9-8 win over Team John Shuster of the United States. John Morris from Canmore, Alta., is subbing at skip this week for Shuster. Both teams entered the match undefeated with Edin finishing pool play at 4-0 while Team Shuster went 3-1 with a playoff spot already clinched.

The action continues at 8 p.m. CST (10 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet 360 and online via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

The top eight teams overall in both divisions advance to playoffs. The quarterfinals and semifinals are set for Saturday with both finals scheduled Sunday.

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.