Jennifer Jones shoots a stone during the final round-robin draw of the Boost National on Dec. 14, 2018, in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

Jones cruises past Sinclair into National playoffs

December 14, 2018, 10:35 PM

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast.

Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones was in the driver’s seat Friday night at the Boost National with a decisive 10-2 victory over Jamie Sinclair from the United States to qualify for the playoffs.

The defending champion Team Jones is through to Saturday’s quarterfinals with a 3-1 record. Team Sinclair is still in the mix but will meet Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., in a tiebreaker at 11 a.m. local time. Both Sinclair and Einarson ended pool play with 2-2 records.

“It was a huge win,” said Jones, who has won a record nine Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling women’s titles. “We didn’t want to be playing in a tiebreaker tomorrow, so it was a big win to go out there and get some momentum heading into the playoffs.”

Team Jones has not slowed down entering the event after winning the Canada Cup this past Sunday in Estevan, Sask., and appear to be maintaining the momentum rather than feeling fatigue.

“We’ve been feeling really good,” Jones said. “It was a long week at the Canada Cup but coming off of a victory. We started a little bit slow here but have been getting better with each game, so hopefully, that’ll continue into playoffs tomorrow.”

Team Sinclair started with the hammer but struggled out of the gate. Sinclair looked to blank the first frame but hit and stuck around at the edge of the 12-foot circle for a single and Team Jones took complete control from there.

The second end didn’t get any better for Sinclair as she wrecked on a guard handing Jones an easy open hit to count five. Disaster struck again in three as Sinclair wicked and rolled out to concede four more points and an insurmountable gap.

Sinclair scored in the fourth end forced to draw for a single against a couple counters but Jones replied in five tacking another point on the board to ice the game early.

Boost National: Scores & Playoff brackets | Game Schedule | Broadcast Schedule

Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg edged Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni 6-5 in an extra end during the rematch of the Princess Auto Elite 10 women’s final. Hasselborg, who won the first couple Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events of the season, is all tuned up for the playoffs finishing at the top of the women’s table with an unblemished 4-0 record. Tirinzoni (3-1) tasted defeat for the first time this week.

Scotland’s Team Eve Muirhead took two in the eighth to nip Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 5-4. Muirhead qualified for the playoffs at 3-1 while Scheidegger went winless at 0-4.

Hasselborg awaits the winner of the tiebreaker game in the quarterfinals, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan faces Toronto’s Team Jacqueline Harrison, Jones goes up against Muirhead, and Tirinzoni takes on Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa.

Meanwhile, a nervous Newfoundland crowd watched as Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s secured their playoff spot on home turf ousting Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller 4-1 in a tiebreaker.

Gushue rebounded from a tough 6-5 loss to undefeated reigning champ Team Bruce Mouat of Scotland during the previous draw and had to go back-to-back in order to qualify. The double defending Brier winner Gushue came out strong securing hammer to start by pinning his pre-game draw-to-the-button shootout and converted in the first frame with a deuce.

Schwaller, who beat Gushue in an extra end during Tuesday’s opener, blanked four consecutive ends before having to settle for a single in the sixth. That was all the offence the Swiss side could muster as Gushue added some insurance potting another pair of points in the seventh.

“We didn’t play a great game earlier today in the afternoon and we kind of got what we deserved,” Team Gushue second Brett Gallant said. “We just didn’t come out with all the shots we needed to. We played a lot better game this evening. Brad made some big shots; Everybody made some big shots. We played pretty consistently and that was key.

“Obviously, we lost to those guys in our first game here and we knew they were going to be tough and they played us tough again. It was important we came out and just played our game and played really well.”

It was the first time Gushue had to battle out of a tiebreaker since the 2013 Players’ Championship, which speaks volumes to the consistency and strength of the squad over the past few years. Ten of Gushue’s 11 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title wins have come since third Mark Nichols returned to the lineup in 2014 and they’ve only missed the playoffs in the series three times during that span.

“We’ve had pretty good luck getting right through lately but everybody is so competitive here,” Gallant said. “We lost a couple of games where we played pretty well to get to 2-2. Just to get through is important and an extra game under our belts isn’t a bad thing.”

Team Gushue is now an uncharacteristic No. 8 in the bracket and what do you know, they’ll take on top-seed Team Mouat in the quarterfinals. Gallant is fully aware they’re going to have to play better than they did this afternoon but is looking forward to the rematch.

“We know they’re a strong team and we’ve played them quite a bit over the last calendar year between the world championship and Slams,” he said. “We know they’re a tough team and they’re going to have the hammer to start, too, so we’re going to have to wrestle that away and just play well. Play like we did tonight.”

Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont., also advanced out of the tiebreaker stage doubling out Saskatoon’s Team Kirk Muyres 4-2.

“These are the best teams in the world,” Howard said. “Day-in and day-out you’re not going to find better fields than the Grand Slams. Just to win a couple of games is hard enough but to qualify is something special. You know you’ve done something good if you get that far and hopefully, we’re not done yet. We’re going to keep plugging away.”

Howard is a winner of 14 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles as a skip including a record-tying four National championships.

“I don’t really pay a lot of attention to which ones they are because the Slams are the Slams, they’re the best teams in the world but this is kind of cool, one of the original ones, and you want to do well in those,” said Howard, who is one of the Original 18 skips in the series. “Here in Conception Bay South with the Gushue fans, it’s pretty electric in here, so it’s a pleasure to play under these conditions.”

Howard plays Team Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., while Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe clashes with Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson and Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin goes up against Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson in the other quarterfinal matches.

The Boost National resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) with the men’s quarterfinals and the women’s tiebreaker on Sportsnet followed by the women’s quarterfinals at 3 p.m. NT / 1:30 p.m. ET (CBC) and both semifinals at 7:30 p.m. NT / 6 p.m. ET (Sportsnet 360).

All playoff draws are also streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

Both 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.