PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — Get ready for an epic showdown in Sunday’s Princess Auto Elite 10 final as John Morris and Brad Jacobs clash for the championship.
Both skips are multi-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champions and the match play format works in their favour. It should be a non-stop highlight reel with lots of rocks in play and wicked runbacks aplenty.
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.
Here’s the tale of the tape ahead of the game:
Lineup: Jim Cotter (fourth), John Morris (skip/third stones), Tyrel Griffith (second) and Rick Sawatsky (lead)
Hometown: Vernon, B.C.
World Curling Tour year-to-date ranking: 10th
WCT money list rank: 9th ($54,762)
Road to the final: Team Morris was the No. 2 seed for the playoffs picking up three regulation wins. Two of them came in a marathon run Friday where they played in three of the four draws. Morris rolled right through Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers with a 4-and-2 victory in the semifinals.
Morris re-joined Cotter’s crew this season after two years with Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Theissen. The Morris-Cotter combo had lots of potential in their previous run reaching the final at the 2013 Olympic Trials and the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier. They’ve reestablished that chemistry looking to make a push towards the next Trials at the end of this year.
Morris, the 2010 Olympic gold medallist, is a 10-time Grand Slam champion and won a pair of National titles at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre in 2007 while playing on Kevin Martin’s team. This is his first final with Cotter, Griffith and Sawatsky. With Cotter skipping last year and Ryan Kuhn playing third, the B.C. squad captured the inaugural Tour Challenge Tier 2 title and finished runner-up to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen at the Masters.
There’s more than just money and Rogers Grand Slam Cup points on the line for Morris as he still needs to qualify for the Humpty’s Champions Cup — the season-ending Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event running April 25-30 in Calgary — and a win here will guarantee him a spot. That gives Morris some extra motivation over Jacobs, who earned his berth to the Humpty’s Champions Cup months ago.
Lineup: Brad Jacobs (skip), Ryan Fry (third), E.J. Harnden (second) and Ryan Harnden (lead)
Hometown: Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
World Curling Tour year-to-date ranking: 4th
WCT money list rank: 4th ($93,500)
Road to the final: Team Jacobs topped the table earning 10 out of a possible 12 points with three regulation wins and a shootout loss to Peter de Cruz of Switzerland. The No. 1 seed also cruised through the semifinals scoring a 3-and-2 win over Calgary’s Kevin Koe.
The reigning Olympic champs earned a big tour win at the start of the year in Saskatoon and snapped the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling “hometown curse” by winning the Boost National in their backyard at the Essar Centre in December. Jacobs also finished runner-up at the WFG Masters in October after Niklas Edin of Sweden stole an extra end.
Jacobs captured his first career Grand Slam title at the 2015 Players’ Championship.
As mentioned above, Morris finished second at the 2013 Olympic Trials … to Jacobs. While the format here is different, skins and match play seem to suit Team Jacobs well as they’ve also scored a pair of Pinty’s All-Star Skins Games titles and were finalists at that event earlier this season.
It’s probably a coincidence — a big coincidence no less — during the previous two seasons, the team that won the National also captured the Elite 10: McEwen in 2014-15 and Brad Gushue in 2015-16. As the reigning National champ, Jacobs can continue that streak Sunday.