Anna Hasselborg in action at the Players' Championship on April 11, 2019, in Toronto. (Anil Mungal)

Unbeaten Hasselborg holds off Scheidegger at Players’ Championship

April 11, 2019, 10:50 PM

TORONTO — Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg has taken sole possession of first place in the Players’ Championship women’s standings.

The reigning Olympic gold medallists maintained their unblemished record moving to 4-0 following a 6-3 victory over Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta.

Skip Anna Hasselborg said it’s really nice to be at the top of the table and have a playoff spot secure with another round-robin game remaining.

“We’re playing really well and we’re very focused,” she said. “We love being back here, the ice is great and we’re having tons of fun.”

Steals were the key as Hasselborg put on the pressure breaking a 1-1 tie by pirating two points in the third and swiping another one in the fourth. Scheidegger’s angle raise in three rolled high and took out her own to concede the pair and her draw against four counters in the following end came up just short of the four-foot circle to hand over one more point.

The teams alternated singles in five and six and again in seven and eight as Scheidegger, who had also entered the match with three consecutive wins, was unable to overcome the deficit.

“With the five-rock rule, you know you’re always going to be pressured,” Hasselborg said. “That steal was big for the game and then we got the forces on. I think we controlled the scoreboard. It felt very tight in every end.”

Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., is the only other undefeated club on the women’s side sitting at 3-0 in the opposite pool.

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

Elsewhere, Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa and Team Sayaka Yoshimura both scored their first victories of the tournament and improved to identical 1-3 records. Fujisawa got on the board with an 8-2 win over Calgary’s Team Chelsea Carey (2-2) while Yoshimura edged Team Kerri Einarson (1-3) of Gimli, Man., 5-4 in an extra end.

In men’s play, Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe downed Team Niklas Edin of Sweden 6-2 in a rematch, but not a repeat, of Sunday’s world championship gold-medal game.

Koe, who arrived straight from the worlds in Lethbridge, Alta., opened the Players’ Championship with a loss to Team Glenn Howard but has now improved to a 2-1 record.

“It was a big game tonight against Nik,” Team Koe third B.J. Neufeld said. “Winning that puts us in a really good spot to make the playoffs. You lose that one then you’re maybe on your last legs, so it’s good to get that win. We didn’t play that bad against Howard. They played a really good game and it seems like they’re playing well but we’re in a good spot now.”

It was textbook curling for Koe as he scored deuces while holding the hammer in ends one, three and five while forcing Edin to singles in two and four.

“It’s nice. That’s kind of how you draw it up: deuce, force, deuce, force,” Neufeld said. “We put a lot pressure on Nik and just got a couple misses out of them early to get those deuces. We had control pretty much the whole game.”

After things weren’t looking ideal for the back-to-back world champ Edin (2-1) in six, the squad shook hands.

Neufeld said his team is feeling pretty good as they’re looking to really just enjoy this event following a few intense weeks.

“Basically, three weeks of curling there between the Brier and the worlds that are pretty high-stressed,” he said. “I don’t know if we can really grind for another week so we’re just having fun here in Toronto. We love the city, are enjoying ourselves and are trying to make some shots.”

Toronto’s Team John Epping scored two in the eighth end to defeat Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 6-5. Epping improved to a 2-2 record while De Cruz dropped to 1-3.

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

Round-robin action continues Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET with broadcast coverage resuming 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. Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan clinched the women’s title earlier Thursday.