Tracy Fleury (centre) shoots a stone with sweepers Taylor McDonald (left) and Kristin MacCuish (right) on April 12, 2019, at the Players' Championship in Toronto. (Anil Mungal)

Fleury secures spot for Players’ Championship playoffs

April 12, 2019, 11:39 AM

TORONTO — Team Tracy Fleury secured a playoff spot in the Players’ Championship after improving to a 3-1 round-robin record.

The reigning Manitoba champions from East St. Paul scored a 7-3 victory to cool Team Robyn Silvernagle during Friday’s morning action at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Team Fleury called upon Edmonton’s Taylor McDonald to spare at second this week with Liz Fyfe planning to have her second baby. McDonald, who played with Winnipeg’s Team Alli Flaxey this season, also served as Fleury’s alternate earlier this year at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“I really enjoyed spending the week with them at the Scotties,” McDonald said. “I’m happy that they asked me to be here and we’re having a blast so far.”

Fleury said McDonald is playing well and fitting in great.

“We’re lucky to have her,” Fleury said. “I think it helps she came to the Scotties with us, so we had a week with her there.”

The Players’ Championship is the sixth event and fourth major of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season and carries a $30,000 prize for the winning men’s and women’s teams. Team Fleury is also sixth in the Pinty’s Cup standings and in the race to finish in the top four to cash in a bonus.

McDonald said it means a lot Team Fleury asked her to come on board for the prestigious tournament with a lot on the line.

“I love playing in this event,” McDonald said. “We’re sad to not be here this year. The fact that Team Fleury had confidence in me to come in and fill in for Liz and fill her shoes is really important and kind of them.”

It was a back-and-forth battle between Fleury and Silvernagle, who had entered the morning matchup on a three-game winning streak. The teams alternated singles in the first couple ends and traded pairs of points in three and five. Fleury added another deuce in six to take a two-point lead and forced Silvernagle into attempting a tricky shot in eight to try and send it into an extra end. Silvernagle was off the mark and Fleury tacked two more on the board from the steal.

“We knew we had to play strong to beat them,” McDonald said. “They’ve been playing well all week and getting their rocks in good positions, but we came out pretty sharp and got the right inch this time.”

McDonald thought she had the “super spare of the week” award by default, as the only spare this week, until her skip for next season, Laura Walker, got the emergency call Thursday to help Team Rachel Homan with second Joanne Courtney needing some rest.

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Elsewhere, Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones scored a single in the eighth end to edge reigning world champions Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland 5-4 and Team Satsuki Fujisawa clipped Team Sayaka Yoshimura 7-6 in a meeting of Japanese clubs.

Jones moved up to a 2-2 record, Tirinzoni dropped to 1-3, Fujisawa finished round-robin play at 2-3 while Yoshimura was eliminated from contention at 1-4.

Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat slipped past Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers 6-5 during an extra end in the lone men’s game on the draw. It was the first win for Team Mouat (1-3) as they look to stay in the mix. Carruthers sits at 2-2.

Teams are split into two pools for round-robin play, five games each, with the best eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs. Tiebreaker games may be required to determine the final spots.

Round-robin action continues at Noon ET with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

Notes: The Players’ Championship is the sixth event and fourth major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tour featuring 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams in the world. … Also on the line is the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season men’s and women’s champions and includes a $75,000 bonus for the winners. Homan already clinched the women’s title.