Jennifer Jones in Draw 1 action Wednesday at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in Chatham-Kent, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

Jones, Gushue open GSOC season with wins at Elite 10

September 26, 2018, 9:20 PM

CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. — Reigning world champions Team Jennifer Jones kicked off the first-ever Princess Auto Elite 10 women’s competition in the win column Wednesday.

Jones and her Winnipeg-based club defeated Edmonton’s Team Chelsea Carey 4 & 2 during Draw 1 action Wednesday night in the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event at Thames Campus Arena.

It was a clean shutout for Jones, who scored checkmarks in four ends with Carey claiming none.

“It was nice to be on the ice, our first event in an arena, and first one in the new colours is very exciting,” said Jocelyn Peterman, who joined Team Jones at second this season. “It’s been a long time coming, lots of time to mentally prepare for it. Now that it’s here it’s more exciting than anything.”

Originally a men’s invitational, the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling added a women’s division to the Princess Auto Elite 10 this season bringing parity across the seven-event series.

Match play rules are in effect where teams compete to win the most ends per game. Points are scored by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer). The Princess Auto Elite 10 features three additional unique rules: Stopwatches are banned, tick shots cannot be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the sixth rock of play, and teams have four minutes of thinking time per end.

Peterman, who previously played with Team Carey, said it was interesting staying on top of the match play format as well as the other rules.

“It’s the first event with the new team in an arena but then there’s also all these other rules that we’re trying to keep track of but I really liked it,” Peterman said. “It’s something different and keeps your mind working. It’s not as routine as the usual events so it was kind of cool.”

She added: “I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel first time playing against my former skip but once you’re in the zone and you’re chatting with your team you’re not really too focused on who you’re playing.”

Jones opened the scoring with a steal when Carey crashed on a guard with the final rock of the second end. It was a missed opportunity for Carey in the third as she already sat one stone prior to her last but rolled an inch too far leading to a push and loss of hammer.

The nine-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Jones picked up a point in the fourth and added another steal in the fifth as Carey looked to raise her own guard in for a push but couldn’t get it close enough.

Carey needed to win out from the sixth end onward but gave up another steal bringing out early handshakes.

Princess Auto Elite 10: Scores & Standings | Draw Schedule | TV Schedule

Meanwhile, Olympic gold medallists Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden also scored a win to start by trumping Team Jamie Sinclair from Blaine, Minn., 3 & 2.

In men’s play, Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., opened their season where they left off picking up a 3 & 2 win over Winnipeg’s Team Gunnlaugson. Gushue capped the 2017-18 campaign claiming the Humpty’s Champions Cup to become the first to capture all seven event titles in the series.

Team Gushue second Brett Gallant said it felt great to finally hit the ice with their opponents having a head start elsewhere on the World Curling Tour.

“We were pretty fresh going out,” Gallant said. “We haven’t thrown a lot of rocks together but everything seemed to click into place and we felt pretty good for our first game.”

Although Gunnlaugson held the hammer to start, Gushue jumped out to an early 3UP lead stealing the first trio of ends. Gunnlaugson got on the scoreboard in the fourth but Gushue responded taking the fifth to reestablish the three-point gap. A blank in the sixth brought out the handshakes.

“It’s tough because you know he’s got that big-weight ability to move a ton of shots so you’re just trying to leave the angles as best you can for us and hope,” Gallant said. “You know he’s going to have a big shot but whether he’s going to make it or not. He was close a lot of times, the score was a little more lopsided maybe than it could have been.”

Toronto’s Team John Epping thumped Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., 4 & 2 and Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers stole one in the eighth end to escape with a 1UP win over Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Teams earn three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win and one point for a shootout loss. The top six teams overall, regardless of pools, qualify for the weekend playoffs.

Round-robin action resumes Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET with broadcast coverage beginning at Noon ET on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and (international).

NOTES: Winners of the Princess Auto Elite 10 earn $24,000 of the $200,000 prize purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 23-28 in Saskatoon. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season champions in the series with a $75,000 bonus for the winners.