The second day of the Meridian Canadian Open got under way in North Battleford with the women’s teams in action for the first time.
They took to the Civic Centre ice for four games in the 8 a.m. draw and three more at 11:30 a.m.
All eyes were on hometown favourite Robyn Silvernagle and her team in the 11:30 draw as they emerged with a thrilling 6-3 win over Tracy Fleury of Manitoba. Team Silvernagle scored three in the seventh end to break a 3-3 tie and earn the win. Silvernagle shot an impressive 90 percent in the game while lead Kara Thevenot shot 93 percent; the team as a whole averaged 86 percent.
Team Silvernagle will be back in action Thursday morning in the 8 a.m. draw against Nina Roth of the USA, after Roth won over Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson 5-4.
Other women’s results saw previous North Battleford winner Casey Scheidegger victorious over Chelsea Carey 8-3 in an all-Alberta matchup; Satsuki Fujisawa of Japan over Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland 8-3; and Darcy Robertson of Manitoba over Elena Stern of Switzerland 8-5. Those were all 8 a.m. draw games.
In the 11:30 a.m. draw, Eve Muirhead of Scotland defeated Anna Hasselborg of Sweden 7-2, while Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg won 8-2 over Isabella Wrana of Sweden in the other contest.
On the men’s side, the game of interest Wednesday was between Switzerland’s Peter De Cruz and Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs.
It was notable as the first game back for third Ryan Fry, who had taken a leave of absence from Team Jacobs following the now-infamous November incident at the Red Deer Curling Classic involving members of the Jamie Koe rink.
The Koe rink was expelled due to disorderly conduct; Fry, who was on Koe’s team for that particular event, was fined $1,000 by the World Curling Tour for his involvement.
While Fry’s return was a boost to the Jacobs rink, it was De Cruz who emerged victorious 6-5.
Also in the 11:30 a.m. draw, Matt Dunstone of Regina gave Saskatchewan fans something to cheer about by defeating Braden Calvert of Winnipeg 5-4. Earlier, Brendon Bottcher started the day with a win over Reid Carruthers 8-4 in the only men’s side game of the 8 a.m. draw.
In finals from the 3 p.m. draw, John Epping lost 6-3 to Bruce Mouat, Niklas Edin fell to Glenn Howard 4-2, Rachel Homan scored four in the eighth to defeat Laura Walker 8-5, and Saskatoon's Kirk Muyres lost his second straight to Scott McDonald 8-3.
In the other afternoon game, Jason Gunnlaugson and Brad Gushue went to an extra end before Gushue prevailed 4-3. The result means Muyres and Gunnlaugson meet in a “C” side “death match” at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the loser heading home.
The 7 p.m. draw saw one of the more shocking results of the tournament so far as Satsuki Fujisawa’s team laid a hammering on the Jennifer Jones rink. Team Fujisawa scored two in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth and three in the fifth en route to a 9-3 win, for a 2-0 start.
Other action saw Muirhead over Scheidegger 6-2, De Cruz over Koe 6-4 in a game not decided until the final stone, and Saskatoon’s Rylan Kleiter dropped his second straight, losing to Jacobs 7-3.
Also losing was the Dunstone rink to Bottcher by a 6-3 score. Despite the loss, Dunstone was satisfied with his team’s play in front of a supportive crowd in North Battleford.
“They’re all awesome. I’m sure people from all over Saskatchewan are coming out here, so it’s great for the town, great for us curlers to see everybody out here,” said Dunstone.
“Any time you play in front of a Saskatchewan crowd it’s a privilege.”
As for Kleiter, his team faces a win-or-go-home situation in their next game. Kleiter acknowledged to reporters there was definitely pressure, but added “we like to have a little pressure, it might put a little fire under us.”