Kerri Einarson delivers a stone during the Boost National women's quarterfinals on Dec. 15, 2018, in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

Einarson ousts Hasselborg in National quarters

December 15, 2018, 5:16 PM

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — There will be no three-peat for Team Anna Hasselborg.

The Swedish squad won back-to-back titles to start the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season but were knocked out in the Boost National women’s quarterfinals Saturday falling 8-3 to Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man.

Team Einarson also handed Team Hasselborg their first loss of the week as they had taken the No. 1 seed running undefeated through pool play at 4-0.

The “all-skip squad” of Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur have won four World Curling Tour titles this season in their first year together and were an unlikely underdog in the bracket. Team Einarson went 2-2 in the round-robin and needed a victory over Team Jamie Sinclair in a tiebreaker during the previous draw. Einarson punched her playoff ticket with authority trumping the American squad 12-0 stealing all her points over the course of only four ends.

“We had a great game this morning,” Einarson said. “We got some rocks in some really good spots and put some pressure on them early. Then we just came out and kept the momentum going, which was huge.”

Einarson knew her team had a long day ahead of them potentially playing three games in a row and rested up Friday.

“It’s a long grind today,” she said. “We definitely got a lot of rest yesterday, which was key. We knew we going to be playing at either 7:30 in the morning or at 11, so we got a lot of rest and prepared ourselves for today.”

Hasselborg opened the quarterfinal clash with the hammer and converted for a deuce to start in the first frame. Einarson blanked the second and settled for a single in the third.

Since steals were the name of the game earlier, it’s no surprise they played a factor here, too. The 2016 Boost National champion Einarson swiped points in the fourth and fifth ends to pull ahead 3-2.

The reigning Olympic gold medallist Hasselborg was held to a single in six and Einarson hit for a deuce in seven to hold a two-point lead without the hammer coming home.

Einarson poured on the pressure hard hitting with her last to sit five counters and forcing Hasselborg to attempt a tricky split that wasn’t there. That led to three more points on the board for Einarson.

“We definitely didn’t want to give them more than two,” Einarson said. “It was kind of hard to try and peel with their rocks in those spots so we just kept doing what we were doing the whole entire game and really put the pressure on them.”

Team Hasselborg captured their first career title in the series at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in September and won their second just a month later at the Canadian Beef Masters. Hasselborg skipped the Tour Challenge Tier 1 to prepare for the European Championships and it worked out as they claimed the gold medal.

Team Einarson advanced to the semifinals against Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni, who scored a six-ender in the sixth to power past Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa 9-6.

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Meanwhile, the Boost National title defence continues for Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones, who bounced Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead 5-2.

Muirhead held the hammer to start and was on track to blank the opening end until her first skip stone rolled out. That allowed Jones to tuck behind her guard and Muirhead had to draw for a single.

Jones took over with a deuce in the second to pull ahead and limited Muirhead to another lone point in the third that tied it 2-2.

The record nine-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s champion Jones never looked back from there drawing for a single against two counters in the fifth to reclaim the lead and added some insurance with consecutive single steals as Muirhead wrecked on a guard with her last in six and jammed in seven.

Team Jones faces Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan, who chased away Toronto’s Team Jacqueline Harrison 6-4.

Defending men’s champions Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland collide with Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe and Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., take on Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson in the men’s semifinals.

Both sets of semis start at 7:30 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet 360 and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

The finals are scheduled for Sunday.

NOTES: The Boost National is the fourth event and second major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … Winners of the Boost National collect $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale Humpty’s Champions Cup. … 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 in April. … All games are played to eight ends with 33 minutes of thinking time plus two, 90-second timeouts. The five-rock rule is also in effect.