Team Jacobs celebrates with the Boost National trophy on Dec. 11, 2016, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

TBT: Jacobs wins 2016 National in hometown

November 9, 2017, 3:27 PM

Throwback Thursday (TBT) digs through the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling archives to revisit major moments of the series. This week we rewind to December 2016 and the Boost National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Team Jacobs had some unfinished business to take care of in the club’s hometown.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., crew lost in the final of the 2014 National on home ice to Team McEwen and with the event returning to the Essar Centre two years later, skip Brad Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden had a second chance to get the job done.

As always, let the lead photo serve as a spoiler alert.

Jacobs, the reigning Olympic champion, jumped out to a strong start winning his opening-draw match against Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher 7-2 as moose calls ran throughout the arena and made the skip feel special.

“I almost said it out loud to my guys, ‘It feels like the Brier out here. We’ve got some moose calls,’” Jacobs said after the game. “It’s so awesome it’s hard to put into words what it’s like to play in your hometown.”

A 6-3 victory over 2016 Canadian junior silver medallist Tanner Horgan of Sudbury, Ont., put Jacobs up to a 2-0 record and Fry praised the rising Northern Ontario junior stars.

“We’re doing our best to try and learn how to play ourselves and not play the opposition as much, but with those kids, it’s fun to watch them because they’ve grown up watching our team,” Fry said following the match. “It’s pretty cool to see a team that’s so successful when I think their average age is 17, so they’re easily the youngest team to ever play in a Slam and they’ve got a very, very bright future ahead of them.”

Things were choppy for a bit after that, however. Jacobs fell to No. 1 ranked Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 7-5 and lost 5-4 to Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock to finish round-robin play with a 2-2 record and require a trip to the tiebreaker stage to stay in contention.

It was smooth sailing from there. Jacobs drew Peter de Cruz in a defensive battle and upended the Swiss skip 3-2. That qualified Jacobs for the playoffs and the No. 6 seed against John Morris and his team from Vernon, B.C.

Morris, the 2010 Olympic gold medallist, potted a pair of points in the third and led 5-3 coming home. Jacobs held the hammer for the decisive eighth end and scored a key three-ender to win 6-5 and avoid elimination. Team Morris fourth Jim Cotter crashed on a guard with his last rock to open the door for Jacobs to drop the hammer with a three count.

That set up a rematch in the semifinals against Gushue, who was playing in his first event of the season after returning from a hip/groin issue. Again, Jacobs trailed by one point coming home with the hammer and made it count with another trey winning 5-3 to avenge the round-robin loss. Jacobs didn’t need to throw his last this time as Gushue’s final stone sailed clear through the house untouched.

Meanwhile, Reid Carruthers was riding the wave of his Canada Cup victory from the previous week that secured his Winnipeg team a spot in the Olympic Trials. Carruthers went undefeated through round-robin play at 4-0 and extended his winning streak to six with playoff victories over Toronto’s John Epping and Niklas Edin from Sweden to reach the championship match.

Carruthers started the final against Jacobs with the hammer but was forced to settle for a single in the first. Jacobs was also held to just one in the third and the teams alternated points in four and five to keep things all knotted up at 2-2.

Jacobs jumped into the lead 3-2 stealing in the sixth when Carruthers was light on his last. Carruthers blanked the seventh to retain the hammer coming home. As we saw in quarterfinals and semifinals though, sometimes it’s better to be down one as long as you maintain control of the all-important hammer.

Without the hammer, Jacobs turned up the pressure in eight to sit a triangle of counters including two stones in the four-foot circle. Carruthers came down on top of one but was just an inch off of nabbing shot stone from the other to lose 4-2. Jacobs captured his second career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling championship and the crowd went wild.

jacobs

“This is one of the events we were most looking forward to all season and to come out here in our hometown and put on a great show for everyone and win the event it’s like a dream come true for us,” Jacobs said following the victory. “It really is. You don’t get too many opportunities to play in front of your hometown crowd in a big event. We were able to do that and capitalize on it. This was overall huge for our team.”

With the Boost National returning to the Essar Centre, Team Jacobs opens its title defence Tuesday night against Winnipeg’s Team Gunnlaugson. Tickets are available for the Boost National (Nov. 14-19) including a special Jacobs Pass with access to all four round-robin draws featuring the hometown heroes. Visit Essarcentre.ca or call 1-866-775-9422 to purchase your tickets today.

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