Jennifer Jones releases a stone during the Masters playoffs Saturday in Lloydminster, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Jones meets Einarson for Masters women’s title

October 29, 2017, 1:00 AM

LLOYDMINSTER, Sask. — Undefeated Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson will square off in an all-Winnipeg team battle for the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters women’s title Sunday.

Jones clobbered Anna Hasselborg of Sweden 10-4 in only five ends during Saturday’s semifinals while Einarson, who won the Tour Challenge Tier 2 to earn a spot in the Masters, dispatched Scotland’s Eve Muirhead 6-3.

Watch the women’s final live on Sportsnet at 5 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. MT.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Jones, who has won a record seven women’s titles in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling. “It feels great anytime you can get to a Slam final. It’s so hard, the field is so great and we’re really excited to play tomorrow.”

Jones and Einarson took the top playoff seeds with identical 4-0 round-robin records. Jones beat American Jamie Sinclair 5-4 in an extra end while Einarson topped Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland 7-3 during the afternoon quarterfinals.

“We have to be sharp because we know they have been all week,” Einarson said. “We both don’t have a loss yet so definitely come out and play our game, focus on making our shots and putting the pressure on her.”

To say Hasselborg struggled in the first would be an understatement as Jones capitalized big time to score seven.

“We kind of just got some good angles on them,” Jones said. “Unfortunately for them they missed a couple later in the end and gave us a chance. We made some good shots that end and got the seven but it’s always hard to be up so early. It’s hard to defend.”

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Jones didn’t want to ease up knowing that it was still very early and anything could happen.

“You want to keep going but you also just want to avoid anything more than two in any end,” she said. “I thought we did a good job of that and hopefully we’ll even be a little bit sharper tomorrow.”

The world No. 1 ranked Hasselborg cut into the huge deficit with a double for a deuce in the second. Jones hit and stuck for a single in three and continued to pile on the points stealing two in the fourth.

Hasselborg ended things off with a deuce in the fifth and shook hands.

The 2014 Olympic gold medallists Team Jones also includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen.

Meanwhile, after alternating singles to start, Einarson made a great angle raise to score a deuce and take a 3-1 lead in three. Muirhead grabbed another single in four to keep up and tied it in five with a steal.

It was all Einarson from there though as she scored a deuce in six. stole one in seven and ran Muirhead out of rocks in eight.

“As soon as I made that last shot I kind of got goosebumps,” Einarson said. “I’m pretty excited to be in another Grand Slam final.”

Einarson also won the Tour Challenge Tier 2 in 2015 and captured her first elite-level Grand Slam championship at the Boost National last season. Team Einarson also includes third Selena Kaatz, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish, who is Officer’s niece.

Gushue, Edin to face off for Masters title

Brad Gushue has rolled right through the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters and into the championship game.

The St. John’s, N.L., native is on fire earning his sixth victory of the major tournament — and 13th straight in the series this season — crushing Calgary’s Kevin Koe 7-1 in six ends during Saturday’s semifinals.

Gushue will take on defending champ Niklas Edin of Sweden in Sunday’s final.

Watch on CBC at 1 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. MT.

“We’re going to have to play like we did tonight to pull it out,” said Gushue, whose team threw a cool 92 percent. “Hopefully we can put a good game together. It’s always fun to play in Slam finals.”

The two have had some high-profile matches in this year alone. Gushue beat Edin in the Meridian Canadian Open final and the world championship gold medal game while Edin was victorious over Gushue in the Players’ Championship semifinal to clinch the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling’s Bonus Cup.

“We did a successful job last year,” Edin said. “Not at worlds, we were not at our best at worlds, but at the event after [the Players’ Championship] when we played for the big Slam bonus we beat them. I think we have a fairly good record against them in the last year and a half so we’re going to keep playing the way we have and I think it’s going to come down to whoever has the best day out there.”

The reigning world champion Gushue went 4-0 in the round-robin portion and defeated Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 8-3 in the afternoon quarterfinals. Edin had a 3-1 record in preliminary play and edged Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers 4-3 in the quarters.

“I felt our quarterfinal game against de Cruz was our best of the week and tonight we obviously topped that,” Gushue said. “Tonight we played really good, a very solid performance from lead to skip and we didn’t miss too much and really put the pressure on Kevin, which is good and a good sign going into tomorrow.”

Gushue threw it down with the hammer to start hitting and sticking around for a three-spot to set the tone for what was to come.

“That was a fortunate three,” Gushue said. “It looked like we were going to score two and Kevin missed a short runback, which is uncharacteristic for Kevin. We expect him to make that but once we got off to that three-point start it gave us a little bit of a cushion.”

With Gushue lying four in the second, Koe attempted a draw to the button but it rolled a little too far and gave up a steal of one.

Koe’s first skip stone in three went straight through the house untouched but he was sharper with the draw on his last landing on the right side of the four-foot circle for a single.

That was the only offence for Koe as Gushue drew for two in the fifth and it was ballgame with a steal in the sixth. Gushue tacked on another point when Koe went big on a triple takeout attempt that failed and now goes home.

“I felt my team played really well,” Gushue said. “We judged a lot of rocks really good and took a lot of the angles away from Kevin’s team. He’s so good with those big weights we didn’t give him a chance to play any for a bunch of points, which is really nice.”

Gushue posted a perfect 7-0 record to win his eighth career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title at the season-opening Tour Challenge Tier 1 in September in Regina. The team of Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker captured the Masters in 2014.

Meanwhile, Edin defeated Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen 4-2 in a defensive battle.

Edin blanked the first, gave up a steal in the second and blanked again in three waiting for the right opportunity. That came in the fourth as McEwen missed his last and Edin capitalized for a score of three.

“We were a bit lucky when I missed that double but still rolled to a tough draw and he ends up short. That’s unfortunate for them,” Edin said. “We still played really solid there to get the hammer back in the even ends. After that three it felt really good but a few mistakes actually generated that three so we need to be more focused tomorrow and not make those easy mistakes early in the game against Gushue.”

McEwen settled for a single in five to keep pace and Edin fired back-to-back blanks to retain the hammer for the final frame in the eighth where he added another point.

Edin, third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wrana and lead Christoffer Sundgren made history at the Masters last season becoming the first non-Canadian men’s squad to claim a Grand Slam title. The skip said it would be pretty cool if he could successfully retain the title.

“We’ve never obviously have defended our titles because our first one was last year,” Edin said. “It feels unreal that we keep getting good results and we still feel we haven’t played at our best level yet.

“I think we’re coming. In these last two games we’ve really shown heart and kept focusing on everything even though we didn’t get a good start. We stuck to it and made some really nice shots and when we get the lead we’re very hard to stop obviously. We hope we can get that going.”