Brad Jacobs delivers a stone during the semifinals of the WFG Masters in Okotoks, Alta. (Photo: Anil Mungal)

Jacobs, Edin to clash for WFG Masters men’s title

October 29, 2016, 8:42 PM

OKOTOKS, Alta. — Reigning Olympic champ Brad Jacobs powered through an extra end to edge Steve Laycock 5-4 Saturday night at the sold out Pason Centennial Arena and advance to the WFG Masters men’s final.

Jacobs made a gentle tap back to promote one of his one stones in and fist-pumped the air as it stopped for shot rock to cool the white-hot Laycock team, who entered the semifinals at 5-0.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native Jacobs said after the game he wasn’t really thinking about a whole lot when his shooter was sliding down the ice.

“I was really just trying to focus on calling the line,” he said. “It was nice to hear the sweepers saying, ‘weight’s good, weight’s good,’ and it was a great team shot. It was well thrown, well swept, well called and made so really just happy to make a shot like that to win the game and advance to the final.”

Jacobs will take on Niklas Edin of Sweden, who earned a spirited 8-3 victory over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers.

Watch the men’s final live Sunday on CBC at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT

It was a deceptive final score, however, as Edin said the ice conditions proved to be challenging for both teams.

“This was a really, really tricky game,” Edin said. “The first big one for us as a team having a new second [Rasmus Wrana]. We didn’t really know what to expect from ourselves really.

“We wanted to play a good game and then right after the practice the ice got really frosty, so probably the trickiest sheet of ice we’ve played on so far this year. Speed was really tricky and the line calls were all over the place, so I think both teams just struggled. We got the best of it, so we were kind of lucky to make the right shots at the right time.”

It’s been a redemption season already for Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden as they captured the College Clean Restoration Curling Classic last month in Saskatoon for their first tour title since their Players’ Championship win in April 2015. With the year-long title drought now a thing of the past, Jacobs came into the WFG Masters tournament fired up for the start of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season, and he has been shooting the lights out all week.

“I think everyone came here really excited to play, excited about the fact that we’re playing in Grand Slams now,” Jacobs said. “You’re going to be playing in front of people and the energy is going to be there. We were just really amped up to come here.

“To us, the Grand Slams feel like it’s the start of the season and I think that’s one of the reasons why we’re playing so well. We’re just prepared and we’re pumped up.”

Edin is 0-for-2 in career Grand Slam finals as his team looks to become the first European men’s rink to win a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title.

His first trip to a final came at the 2011 Players’ Championship with Sebastian Kraupp, Fredrik Lindberg (who’s now the team’s coach) and Viktor Kjell. The team broke up following their Olympic bronze medal season in 2014 and Edin linked up with the young trio of Oskar Eriksson, Kristian Lindstroem and Christoffer Sundgren. The new foursome reached the final at the inaugural Elite 10 in March 2015 and weeks later captured the world championship.

Lindstroem needed off-season shoulder surgery this summer and with a lengthy timetable to recover and return to the elite level plus the Olympics on the horizon, Edin opted to bring in Wrana to play second this year.

Wrana has fit in seamlessly as Team Edin currently sits No. 1 on the World Curling Tour’s year-to-date rankings and money list with three title victories already.

“I’ve been in two [Grand Slam] finals with two different teams and now it’s a third lineup. It’ll be a good final,” Edin said. “Jacobs has been there before. They’ve played really good and they seem to be really pumped out there so I don’t think we can expect too many mistakes from them.

“If we can keep playing the way we had earlier, before the game, I think we’ll have a good shot. Just trying to figure out the ice a bit faster than we did this game and I think we’re in for a treat.”

Jacobs also believes it’ll be a great show with a tough match-up ahead.

“They’re clearly on a roll. We beat them in the first game, but I mean that obviously means nothing now,” he said. “They’re playing really well and we’re playing pretty well. You know that they’re going to come out and be tough. I think we are though too. We’re rolling with a lot of confidence right now as well and hopefully it’ll be an entertaining game for everyone watching and all of the fans in the arena.”

Following the men’s final, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan takes on Allison Flaxey of Caledon in an all-Ontario team battle for the women’s title (3 p.m. MT on Sportsnet). Homan is a three-time winner of the event and the defending champion.