Brad Jacobs shoots a stone during round-robin action at the Players' Championship on April 10, 2019, in Toronto (Anil Mungal)

Jacobs surges past Bottcher at Players’ Championship

April 10, 2019, 6:52 PM

TORONTO — It’s business as usual for Team Brad Jacobs at the Players’ Championship even with third Ryan Fry set to depart from the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., club at the end of the season.

Awkward? Not at all according to second E.J. Harnden and the results speak for themselves.

Jacobs jumped out to a 2-0 start following a 7-4 victory over Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher during the fourth round-robin draw Wednesday at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

“To be completely honest, it’s not awkward at all because of our situation and it being something that all of us felt the same way about,” Harnden said. “We joked, the first game we got off the ice and as soon as we got here, we’re like nothing feels different whatsoever and that’s great. For us, we truly are great friends and we know that our friendship is going to maintain and last long after this season is over.

“We’re going to have some fun. Nothing feels any different. We’re going to compete hard and more than anything we just want to end strong and hopefully end on a winning note.”

Twelve-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Marc Kennedy will take over at third on Team Jacobs next season while Fry is going to join John Epping’s crew. In the meantime, Harnden said there’s still a ton to play for, especially at the Players’ Championship with the winning men’s team claiming $30,000 from the $150,000 purse and likely to also cash in the Pinty’s Cup as the overall season champion with a $75,000 bonus.

“For us too, we want to end our season strong and have some fun at the same time, so we always look forward to this event because there’s a ton to play for and you have all of the top teams in the world here,” said Harnden, who captured hist first Grand Slam title at the Players’ Championship in 2015. “You know that each and every game is going to be extremely tough and you can never take any games off, so winning two early is massive.”

Trailing by one at the break, Jacobs surged ahead in the fifth end capitalizing after Bottcher crashed on a guard with an open hit for three points. Bottcher responded with a deuce in six to make it all square at 4-4 but another three-count in seven put Jacobs back into the lead.

Jacobs ran Bottcher out of rocks in the eighth end to secure the victory and Harnden said it was a good game of patience.

“Both teams were probably not at their best, making some good shots and then letting the other team off when they had the end in their favour,” Harnden said. “For us, it was really good just to be patient, go through the struggles, wait for our opportunities and capitalize.

“That’s what we were able to do in the second half of the game was just stay patient, take advantage of our opportunities and it was a good patient game for us early in the week. A good close game, one of those games that you kind of want to be in early and hope that it helps you in the end.”

Bottcher (1-1) split his matches on the day defeating Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 6-5 in the morning draw.

Players’ Championship: Tickets | Live Scores/Results | Standings | Draw Schedule | Broadcast Schedule

Elsewhere in the fourth round-robin draw, Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., also climbed to a 2-0 record following a 7-5 victory over De Cruz (0-2).

It was a good day overall at the office for Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin as the world champions picked up a pair of victories against Scottish squads to join Jacobs and Gushue at the top of the leaderboard at 2-0. Edin hammered Team Bruce Mouat 11-2 in only four ends during the morning and added a 6-4 win over Team Ross Paterson in the afternoon.

“Coming from worlds, we were really tired and then the morning draw today we had to really focus,” Edin said. “Got that miss from [Mouat] early, so that turned into an easy game, which was lucky for us. I think we would have been really drained from energy after that if it was a long game. I think we still were this game but it was a short one this morning.

Edin was up 3-2 after five ends but gave up a steal of two and the lead in the sixth. The 2017 Players’ Championship winner got a deuce back in the seventh to leapfrog ahead by one and ran down his clock to only two seconds with his last to guard what he believed was Paterson’s only chance. Paterson (0-2) went for it anyway with a bunch of rocks in the house but misfired the angle raise and Edin tacked on a single steal.

“I was really happy to turn it around,” Edin said. “It was a really unlucky hit in the sixth there to give away a steal of two, I didn’t think that was even possible. After that, we fought hard and I felt we deserved the win there. Lucky to get it though so we’ll take it, 2-0 is a good start.”

Third Oskar Eriksson picked up extra sweeping duties with Christoffer Sundgren holding the broom in the house during last rocks as Edin explained his lead wasn’t feeling well.

“He’s just feeling sick, got the cough going on,” Edin said. “Just can’t sweep very hard now. He’s just getting really tired. We decided to put him up on vice skip. It’s working pretty well but it’s a little bit different though, having a different guy line-calling and a different sweeper and stuff. If we get to do that tomorrow, I think we’ll have to discuss a little bit about communication.”

There was a stoppage in play early in the game and a leaky roof was the culprit requiring both teams to have their brushes checked out.

“At first, we thought it was oil, which could have been a real problem if that sticks on the rocks and the brushes and on the ice, it might not come out of there that easily,” Edin said. “Probably though, it was something leaking from the roof, they figured it out. … They’ll look into that but if it keeps coming I think they’re going to need to fix it pretty soon.”

In women’s play, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan drew level to a 1-1 record following a 7-3 win over Team Elena Stern of Switzerland (0-2).

Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg (2-0) sits at the top of the standings in the women’s division after defeating Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., 5-2. Einarson now holds a 1-1 record.

Round-robin action continues at 8 p.m. ET. Teams are divided into two pools for round-robin play with the best eight overall qualifying for the weekend playoffs.

Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at Noon ET 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. … A combined purse of $300,000 is up for grabs with the winning teams cashing in $30,000 each. … 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.