Brad Jacobs shoots a stone during the eighth round-robin draw of the Players' Championship on April 11, 2019, in Toronto. (Anil Mungal)

Jacobs gets by Gushue to stay undefeated at Players’ Championship

April 11, 2019, 6:55 PM

TORONTO — There could only be one unbeaten team remaining in Pool B of the Players’ Championship men’s division as Brad Jacobs and Brad Gushue’s squads squared off Thursday afternoon.

Both teams entered the latest edition of the “Battle of the Brads” at 3-0 but Jacobs was the one who kept his unblemished record intact winning his fourth consecutive game at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

It came down to the last rock of the game with the score all square, of course, but Jacobs held the all-important hammer and punched out Gushue’s exposed stone to tack two points on the board in the 8-6 victory.

Jacobs clinched a spot for the weekend playoffs with one round-robin game still on tap against Team Peter de Cruz and said it was a great win.

“We got a little fortunate when we made that little lucky one for four but that’s curling sometimes and that’s the way it goes,” Jacobs said. “Fortunately, we were on the right side of that one. We’re just having a lot of fun. I think we’re playing really well and I’m sure we’ve clinched a playoff spot now. We’ll go out against De Cruz tomorrow, play hard and try to keep the momentum going into the playoffs.”

Trailing by one in the fifth, Jacobs could have drawn for a deuce but couldn’t pass up on the opportunity for a big end against Gushue with a runback. It almost looked like a miss, however, there was Plan B as the raised rock redirected off of one of Jacobs’s other stones and connected with Gushue’s granite regardless to score four.

“That shot was lined up kind of nicely,” Jacobs said. “It suited everyone’s eye, I think, and that spot in the ice with my out-turn is a comfortable spot. Once again, we got a little lucky but you’ve got to take those opportunities on when they’re presented to you. We did, we got fortunate.”

For Jacobs’s sake, it’s a good thing he went for it as his team struggled in the seventh and Gushue was able to get back into the game drawing for three points to tie it 6-6.

Still, Jacobs had the hammer coming home and he credits second E.J. Harnden for clearing the deck with a triple takeout that kept the lanes wide open.

“As soon as E.J. made that shot in eight, I felt pretty confident we were going to win the game no matter what,” Jacobs said. “It’s really nice when a guy comes up with a big shot like that and takes the pressure off.”

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Elsewhere, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher improved to a 2-2 record defeating Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone 7-6. Dunstone dropped to a 0-4 record.

Switzerland’s Team Silvana Tirinzoni bounced back big time getting their first win of the tournament with a 9-1 rout over Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan. The reigning world gold medallists (1-2) broke a 1-1 tie with a four-ender in the third and added consecutive steals of two in the fourth and fifth ends. Homan (2-2) clinched the women’s Pinty’s Cup earlier Thursday with an 8-5 win over Team Tracy Fleury to earn the $75,000 bonus as the overall season points champion.

Team Fleury, from East St. Paul, recovered with a 5-4 victory over Manitoba rivals Team Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg. Fleury moved up to a 2-1 record while Jones, who has won the Players’ Championship six times, is now at 1-2.

“It’s a confidence boost, I’d say,” Fleury said. “It got a little bit scary at the end of that game, we almost let it slip away but pulled it off in the end.”

Taylor McDonald is subbing at second on Team Fleury for Liz Fyfe, who is preparing to have her second baby. The Edmonton native McDonald, who will play for skip Laura Walker next season, served as Team Fleury’s alternate earlier this year at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“She is playing so well and she’s fitting in great,” Fleury said. “We’re lucky to have her. I think it helps she came to the Scotties with us, so we had a week with her there.”

Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., stayed undefeated on the women’s side at 3-0 although they needed a steal in the extra end to edge Team Elena Stern from Switzerland 5-4. Stern fell to a 1-3 record.

Teams are split into two pools for round-robin play with the best eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs.

Round-robin action continues at 8 p.m. ET with broadcast coverage exclusively 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. … A combined purse of $300,000 is up for grabs with the winning teams cashing in $30,000 each.