Sara McManus skipped Team Hasselborg during the final round-robin draw at the Players' Championship on April 13, 2018, in Toronto. (Anil Mungal)

McManus skips Team Hasselborg past Carey at Players’ Championship

April 13, 2018, 10:47 PM

TORONTO — Sara McManus said she hadn’t skipped since juniors but didn’t seem out of place calling the game for Team Hasselborg at the Players’ Championship Friday night.

With skip Anna Hasselborg not feeling well and missing from the lineup, McManus moved up from third with lead Sofia Mabergs and second Agnes Knochenhauer throwing an extra rock each as they played as just a trio in their game against Chelsea Carey’s Calgary-based club.

The Olympic gold medallists from Sweden already secured a playoff spot and continued to soar into the quarterfinals finishing round-robin play with a 4-1 record after defeating Carey 7-3 at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre.

“That was a lot of fun but I was super nervous,” McManus said. “It’s like a totally different position for me. I played skip when I was a junior but it’s been a couple of years. … We went out there and played for Anna tonight, so that was great.”

Although McManus enjoyed her time in charge again, she’s hoping Hasselborg will be back for Saturday’s quarterfinals with the team taking on American Jamie Sinclair.

“We will see and probably bring her some food so that she can get the energy up,” McManus said. “Yeah, we want her back out there tomorrow.”

McManus opened with the hammer and drew for a single in the first although a close measurement was needed to give them the point.

Team Hasselborg went up 2-0 after the second when Carey attempted to raise her guard in and hit to count two or even three but collided with another stone and gave up a steal.

The Meridian Canadian Open champion Carey came back with a deuce in the third to tie it but fell into trouble with Team Hasselborg piling rocks in the house during the fourth. McManus finished things off with a double takeout to score four and take a commanding 6-2 lead at the break.

“That was amazing, especially with throwing the skip rocks,” McManus said. “That was a lot of fun. I have to be honest, I was a little bit nervous but it went great.”

McManus continued to pour on the pressure, believing the five-rock rule could bring things close again, and made another double to lie four in the fifth end. Carey looked to make a double of her own but over-curled and nosed it to concede another point. The teams shook hands after Carey was limited to one in six.

“We just tried to keep it tight and making our shots but as you say it’s five-rock rule and anything can happen,” McManus said. “We just tried our best.”

Carey was eliminated from playoff contention with a 1-4 record.

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Elsewhere, Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson advanced with a 7-6 win over Sinclair. Both teams went 3-2 in round-robin play.

Three-time Players’ winner Eve Muirhead from Scotland went 4-1 with an 8-3 victory over Rachel Homan of Ottawa. The six-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Homan was the only one to go winless in the tournament at 0-5.

Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni squeezed into the playoffs with an 8-2 thumping on Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa. Both teams went 2-3, however, Tirinzoni finished with a better pre-game draw-to-the-button shootout total.

Fujisawa will play Edmonton’s Team Rocque, skipped by Laura Crocker (2-3), in a tiebreaker Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET. The winner will take on top-seed Jennifer Jones (5-0) of Winnipeg in the women’s quarterfinals.

Einarson plays American Nina Roth and Muirhead meets Tirinzoni in the other playoff matches. The women’s quarterfinals air on CBC at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s John Epping picked up his second win in as many draws over American John Shuster with a 6-3 victory in the one men’s tiebreaker. Epping grabbed the last playoff spot and will face top-seed Kevin Koe (5-0) and his Calgary-based crew.

“We’ve had some success in the past against them but they’ve had our number this year,” Epping said. “I look forward and always enjoy playing against Kevin and those guys. Hopefully, we can play well tomorrow again.”

Epping, who won the Players’ title in 2012, gave up a steal to fall to Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., on Thursday night and dropped to a 1-3 record. An 8-2 thumping over Shuster during the afternoon forced the rematch.

“We played a good game last night against Gushue and kind of obviously had an unfortunate last end and a miss to win the game,” Epping said. “We really played well and controlled that game so it wasn’t a matter of not playing great.

“We’ve played some teams that have played really well against us and today, you know what, we just hung in there and knew that if we won that first one we’d have a chance and that’s all you can ask for when you’re 1-3. Then we played a great game tonight.”

The other men’s quarterfinals Saturday see Jason Gunnlaugson battle Mike McEwen in an all-Winnipeg match, Sweden’s Niklas Edin taking on Scotland’s Kyle Smith and Gushue going up against Scotland’s Bruce Mouat (11:30 a.m ET, Sportsnet).

Both men’s and women’s semifinals run Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet 360).

Online streaming for the quarterfinals and semifinals are available at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare TV (international).