Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and John Morris of Vernon, B.C., are the last men standing in the Princess Auto Elite 10 and will duke it out for the championship at the fifth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of 2016-17.
Jacobs, winner of this season’s Boost National, scored a 3-and-2 victory over Calgary’s Kevin Koe and Morris made it to his first Pinty’s GSOC final of the year taking down Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers 4-and-2 in Saturday’s semifinals.
The Princess Auto Elite 10 features a unique match play format where teams compete to win the most ends per game — by scoring two or more with hammer or stealing — similar to skins although there are no carryovers when teams blank an end.
“It’s an entirely different game with skins and that’s what’s fun with the Elite 10,” Team Jacobs third Ryan Fry said. “It’s curling but it is a little bit of a break for us from the hardcore intensity of it. Everyone wants to win but you know you can make a couple mistakes out there and not get penalized for the loss of the game. You might lose a skin or that here or there but you always have an opportunity. We’re excited about playing.”
Count Morris as a fan of match play too.
“We had a really good positive energy out there and really love this format,” he said. “It keeps you thinking and it’s very strategic. It really rewards some great shot making and some good strategy so it’s been fantastic. This is our first time we’ve played in it with this new format and we love it. We’re going to have a battle I’m sure with Jacobs tomorrow.”
Watch the Princess Auto Elite 10 final between Jacobs and Morris live Sunday on Sportsnet and stream online at Sportsnet NOW at 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT.
After Koe stole the first — Jacobs needed a couple raises to push but didn’t quite get it — his last in the second crashed on a guard with Jacobs already sitting two prior to his last. After a push in three, Jacobs scored again in four and once more didn’t have to throw his final rock as Koe was unable to get first or second shot.
Koe gave up a steal in five as his last came up light and Jacobs stole again in six to bring out handshakes.
“Skins is about putting a few shots together in an end and setting up,” Fry said. “You’re going to have a bunch of misses out there. I know the percentages have been really high but I think the statisticians have been pretty generous for the most part.
“You’ve got to make three or four shots in a row and you end up putting a lot of pressure on guys for the end, they have to end up making some runbacks and we made a few more of those than they did today.”
It’ll be Jacobs’s third Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship game of the season after falling in the WFG Masters final to Niklas Edin of Sweden and topping Carruthers for the Boost National title in his hometown.
Meanwhile, Morris stole the first two ends from Carruthers and never looked back.
A great double raise takeout gave Carruthers the third end, but that was all the offence he would put on the scoreboard. Morris reestablished the two-end advantage in four as fourth Jim Cotter caught enough of Carruthers’s counter to take it out and sit two. Carruthers looked to make a double in five to win the end, but didn’t curl enough and just grazed to hand another point to Morris.
With Carruthers in the danger zone in six and needing to win out, another steal ended his run.
Jacobs defeated Morris in the 2013 Canadian Olympic Trials en route to gold at the Sochi Winter Games. While Sunday’s final isn’t going to have quite the same level of intensity, Morris expects it’ll still be a heavyweight tilt.
“They’re a great team and they’ve shown it time and time again that they make a ton of shots,” Morris said. “We’ve have some really good battles with them over the years. I’m excited to play them with this format. There’s going to be lots of rocks in play. Hopefully it comes down right to the wire.”
Morris, a 10-time Grand Slam champion, won a pair of titles at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre in 2007 with Kevin Martin’s team and said the town, located on Cape Breton Island, has always been fantastic.
“It’s just been a great venue and a great community here,” he said. “We’ve really enjoyed our time all three times we’ve been here and I have nothing but fantastic things to say about the east coast, the hospitality and the Cape Bretoners. It’s just a treat to be out here and I feel really honoured to call myself a Canadian and be a part of this.”