Team Jones, with from left, lead Dawn McEwen, second Jill Officer, third Kaitlyn Lawes and skip Jennifer Jones, celebrate their Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters championship with local girls Aryn Thibault, left, and Kya Patterson. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue and Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones are the 2017 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters champions.
Gushue capitalized on a few Niklas Edin mistakes to topple the defending Masters winner 8-4 at the Centennial Civic Centre on Sunday.
Jones captured her first Masters title a few hours later by besting fellow Winnipeg skip Kerri Einarson 6-5.
“This is a huge win for us,” said Team Jones third Kaitlyn Lawes. “Winning a grand slam like the Masters is really difficult. All the top teams in the world are here and we always say the more playoffs we can get into leading into the (Canadian Olympic) trials the better.”
Gushue and Edin thrilled the packed crowd at the Civic by their incredible shot accuracy and strong rock positioning as each team scored one with hammer during the first two ends.
Skip Brad Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker captured the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Masters men’s team championship. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
One errant throw by Edin third Oskar Eriksson gave Gushue’s team of third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker the upper hand in the third end and the world’s No. 1 ranked curling team took advantage scoring a double takeout and stick on the skip’s last for the deuce.
The Swedish team of Edin, Eriksson, second Rasmus Wrana and lead Christoffer Sundgren battled back to make the score 3-2 in the fourth end only to give up a three-ender in the fifth.
Edin wrecked on his own rock in the 12-foot with his final shot to surrender the trey.
“Obviously when you get three you’re going to get a mistake from the other team and then once we got that mistake Brad had a free draw,” said Nichols.
“We positioned our rocks fairly well and they had to get a little bit aggressive and we were fortunate enough to get the three.”
Edin knocked out a Gushue counter in the four-foot on his final shot to bring the score to 6-4 after six, but his attempt at a double knockout with his last in the seventh end failed leaving Gushue with one counter. The St. John’s, N.L., skip then drew to the four-foot for the deuce and a handshake from Edin.
“We’re playing good, but we’re not playing great,” noted Nichols.
“The playoffs here this weekend were pretty good. There is still definitely room for improvement though. So, we’re going to go back home, practise and work on some technical things that we’ve seen over the last few weeks. We’re just going to keep building from what we’ve got going.”
Team Jones fell behind 1-0 early to Einarson’s crew of third Selena Kaatz, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish on the skip’s hit and stick in the four-foot with her last.
The reigning Olympic champion came back to score a deuce in the second end only to witness her opponent tie the game with hammer in the third and go up 3-2 with a steal in the fourth.
Jones’ team of lead Dawn McEwen, second Jill Officer and Lawes sat three counters on their first six shots of the fifth.
Einarson could only take out one during each of her two skip stones with Jones replacing the rock on her following throws for the 5-3 lead.
“It was a huge end for us to try and get at least two and Jen made a nice hit and roll in to secure that third point,” said Lawes. “To take that lead at the halfway point gave us a little bit of comfort and flexibility to try and not have to go after it as much.”
Einarson locked on a guard on her final throw in the sixth end to allow Jones a steal and three-point advantage.
Last month’s Tour Challenge Tier 2 winner scored one with hammer in the seventh, but could only muster a steal of one in the eighth and final end.
“In the eighth end there we were able to just try and get one of Dawn’s rocks in the house and keep it open as much as possible,” said Lawes.
“Our goal was to make sure Jen either had a draw or an open hit for the win and she did which was great.”