Rachel Homan in action at the Canadian Beef Masters on Oct. 24, 2018, in Truro, N.S. (Anil Mungal)

Homan hammers Einarson to reach Masters playoffs

October 25, 2018, 5:04 PM

TRURO, N.S. — Team Rachel Homan is heating up at the Canadian Beef Masters.

The Ottawa crew climbed to a 3-0 record in round-robin play to qualify for the playoffs with authority hammering Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 8-1 during the eighth draw Thursday at Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

“It feels great,” Team Homan second Joanne Courtney said. “The field is so tough and to go out there and put on a good performance was what we were intending to do, so we’re happy to be where we’re at and looking to keep building towards the weekend.”

It was a tight battle to start with the teams trading single points in the first couple ends until Homan bumped Einarson’s counter through the hole for two points in the third and rolled away from there. Although the weight was coming off of Homan’s shooter, Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle were able to drag it and tap Einarson’s counter back through the hole.

“We just had a few rocks end up in great spots,” Courtney said. “They’re a fantastic team. They’ve been playing well all year so we knew we’d have to be close. We were lucky to get a few misses.”

Team Einarson, who have won four tour titles already this season, entered a world of trouble in the fourth end facing six Homan stones in the house plus a pesky guard up top. Einarson attempted a dynamite quad to blow up the quarry but didn’t get the right angle and was unable to jam and save her shooter on the fourth stone to concede two points.

Things went from bad to worse for Einarson (1-2) crashing on a guard in the fifth to give up a point and came up light on her last in the sixth to hand over two more that brought out the handshakes.

Courtney captured her first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title three years ago at this very rink and said it’s really cool to return.

“I’m having some flashbacks and some awesome memories in this building,” Courtney said. “It was a great win here and we’re really pumped to be back in Truro. It’s such a great city and it’s been fantastic. The volunteers are great and we’re really happy.”

Team Homan faces reigning world junior champions Team Kaitlyn Jones, who earned the sponsor’s exemption and have been the crowd favourite. Courtney said the fans have been great even if her team has to play the heel role Friday.

“They’re cheering for great shots but it’s really cool to see the support that they have for the Jones team,” Courtney said. “I think it’s going to be lots of fun and I hope lots of people come out to watch.”

“I think we’re just still trying to learn the ice and make sure we’re on the right side of tolerance leading into the playoffs,” she added. “It’s a big game coming up against a junior team that obviously playing very well so we’re really looking forward to playing them tomorrow.”

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Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg took two in the fourth, stole two in the fifth and one in the sixth to defeat Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker 6-4. Hasselborg now holds a 1-1 record while Walker dropped to 1-2.

Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe also qualified for the playoffs at 3-0 after crushing Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., 7-1. Howard, who has won the Masters men’s title a record six times, was eliminated from playoff contention at 0-3.

Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat (3-0) also punched their playoff ticket downing Halifax’s Team Jamie Murphy 9-3.

Mouat opened the scoring with a three-ender in the second and led 4-1 at the break with the teams alternating singles in three and four. Murphy (1-2) got a deuce in six to close within one but it was game over after Mouat counted five in the seventh.

“It feels really good,” skip Bruce Mouat said. “We’ve had like an alright start to our season but we’ve just been waiting to build the momentum and the last three games we feel like we have built some momentum.”

Only one of Mouat or Koe can remain undefeated as they’ll face off Friday to wrap up round-robin play.

“It’s always nice to have that one game in hand and it’s obviously against Koe so he’s a tough opponent,” Mouat said. “You want to go in ranked number one or two, so to win that game would be a big one.”

Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson earned a wild 8-7 victory over Toronto’s Team John Epping. The teams alternated three-enders in the third and fourth ends and Paterson added a single steal in five to lead 5-3. Epping and Paterson traded treys again in six and seven and the mayhem came to a halt in the final frame as Epping was only able to add one more point. Both teams hold identical 2-1 records.

The Canadian Beef Masters is the second event and first major of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season with 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world. Divisions are split into three pools for round-robin play during the week with the top eight overall qualifying for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semifinals and finals are set for Sunday.

Round-robin action continues at 7:30 p.m. AT (6:30 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: Winners take home $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup in April. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the overall season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship.