Kelsey Rocque shoots a stone during the third draw of the Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Regina. (Anil Mungal)

Rocque clips Kim to reach Tier 2 playoffs

September 9, 2017, 12:58 AM

REGINA — Kelsey Rocque took two in the eighth end to lift her Edmonton-based team to a 6-5 win over EunJung Kim of South Korea during the Tour Challenge Tier 2 tiebreakers Friday night.

Rocque made an open hit with her last shot of the game to score the deuce and qualify for the playoffs in the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event.

“We had a good end set up and got some rocks in good positions,” Rocque said. “To throw the last rock and to make it felt pretty good.”

Rocque settled for one in the first and went up 2-0 in the second when Kim’s raise attempt went the wrong way. Kim rebounded with a deuce in three to tie it and the teams alternated singles in four and five to keep it tight and knotted up at 3-3.

After Rocque was forced to another lone point in six, Kim climbed into the lead with a deuce in seven. Kim’s last in eight was left open and Rocque nailed the clutch decisive shot.

Team Rocque stumbled out of the starting block in a tough pool that looked more like the Tier 1 level. Rocque lost her first couple games to Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton and American Jamie Sinclair before turning on the jets to beat Calgary’s Chelsea Carey and Team Barker, skipped by Amber Holland, of Moose Jaw, Sask., to finish round-robin play at 2-2 and stay in the mix via tiebreakers.

“Every team here is really tough and fully deserves to probably be able to compete in the Tier 1 level,” Rocque said. “We knew we had to play really well and we got off to a bit of a slow start and then decided to up our play. It feels good to qualify.”

Elsewhere, Lawton also counted a couple in eight to edge Scotland’s Hannah Fleming 6-5.

Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., drew for a single in the eighth end to clip Saskatoon’s Nancy Martin 5-4. Silvernagle will play a second tiebreaker game Saturday morning against Calgary’s Nadine Scotland.

The winner of the Tier 2 division moves up to the elite ranks by receiving a berth to the next Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event, the Masters, running Oct. 24-29 in Lloydminster, Sask.

UPDATE: Silvernagle defeated Scotland 7-5 in the second tiebreaker and will play Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson in the quarterfinals. The other three matches are Rocque vs. Carey, Sinclair vs. Lawton and Russia’s Anna Sidorova vs. Binia Feltscher of Switzerland.

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In the Tier 1 division, Scotland’s Eve Muirhead made it through the tiebreaker with a 5-4 victory over Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont.

Muirhead will play top-seed Alina Paetz of Switzerland in the quarterfinals. The other three matches see reigning champ Val Sweeting of Edmonton meet Michelle Englot’s Winnipeg team, Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg take on Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones play Jacqueline Harrison of Mississauga, Ont. Watch on CBC at 1:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. local time).

The Tier 1 men’s playoffs feature Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., versus Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., against American John Shuster, Pat Simmons and his Winnipeg crew clashing with Norway’s Steffen Walstad and Toronto’s John Epping colliding with defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden. Watch on Sportsnet ONE at 5:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. local time).

The Tier 2 men’s playoffs are Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher vs. Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont., Winnipeg’s William Lyburn vs. Rui Liu of China, American Craig Brown vs. Carl deConinck Smith of Rosetown, Sask., and Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson vs. Saskatoon’s Josh Heidt.