Thursday was the day the pressure ramped up at the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford.
The first playoff positions were clinched during the afternoon draw while one team saw their run at this latest Pinty’s Grand Slam event come to an early end. Here is a summary of the key results on the A, B and C side on Thursday.
On the women’s side, North Battleford’s Robyn Silvernagle played Ottawa’s Rachel Homan in one of two A qualifiers. While Team Silvernagle continued to enjoy great crowd support and was competitive early on, the game got away from them in the fifth and sixth ends.
Homan scored three in the fifth, and then the measuring sticks were brought out after the sixth end to determine if Team Homan scored two more.
They had, and with the scoreboard reading 8-3, Silvernagle threw in the towel and shook hands.
“When you’re playing Rachel Homan you’re probably not getting six to win,” Silvernagle said afterwards.
So it’s on to the B pool next for Silvernagle.
“We can still qualify. We still have two more chances so it’s just a matter of coming out and playing well tomorrow.”
The other A event qualifier was between Eve Muirhead of Scotland and Satsuki Fujisawa of Japan, with Muirhead also clinching a playoff spot with an 8-5 win.
The men’s side saw two playoff spots clinched Thursday afternoon. One spot went to Bruce Mouat of Scotland, who defeated Glenn Howard 4-3 by scoring two in the eighth end to come back and win.
The other A men’s qualifier is Brendan Bottcher who defeated defending champ Peter De Cruz to clinch the other playoff spot. Both the Mouat and Bottcher team are through to Saturday’s quarterfinals; the losers headed over to the B side where three playoff positions can be claimed.
Three playoff spots were up for grabs for both the men’s and women’s B events. Men’s semifinals had Brad Jacobs winning 7-6 against Braden Calvert, with Jacobs set to face Glenn Howard for one B qualifying spot.
Brad Gushue beat Scott McDonald 5-3 to advance to play A event loser Peter De Cruz for the second B qualifying spot.
The other B event semis were played at 7 p.m. and saw Kevin Koe defeat Matt Dunstone 5-2, and Niklas Edin over John Epping 8-4. Koe and Edin now play each other for the third B qualifying spot. All the losers from the B side are demoted to the C event Friday.
In women’s quarters on the B side, Anna Hasselborg beat Chelsea Carey 7-3, Silvana Tirinzoni beat Isabella Wrana 6-4, Tracy Fleury beat Kerri Einarson 8-7 in an extra end, and Laura Walker bested Elena Stern 7-5. In the 3 p.m. draw, Darcy Robertson went to an extra end against Nina Roth, with Roth winning 9-7. Hasselborg lost to Tirinzoni 5-4 in another semifinal.
The struggles of Jennifer Jones’ team continued against Casey Scheidegger, who scored four in the second, one in the third, two in the fifth and one in the seventh for an 8-4 win.
For Scheidegger it has been a welcome return to North Battleford to the same event that her team won two years ago.
“We were excited to hear that the Meridian would be back here, so we were already looking forward to it at the beginning of our season,” said Scheidegger.
“Driving through town just brought back a lot of memories — a lot of good memories for our team, so we’re excited.”
As for her next game, Scheidegger pledged her team would come out with the “same intensity” as this one.
There was one more B semifinal in the 7 p.m. draw, and that saw Walker over Fleury 4-3.
The results set up three B finals on Friday for the right to move on: Tirinzoni v Silvernagle, Walker v Fujisawa and Roth v Scheidegger.
Thursday marked the first day of C event games, and for these unfortunate teams there was no room left for error. Three playoff spots were still up for grabs here, but just one defeat in any one of these C event “death-matches” would mark their third loss, and send them home.
That was the situation facing Saskatoon’s Kirk Muyres and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson in their 7 p.m. game, and Team Muyres was sent packing after losing 6-3. Muyres’ team conceded defeat in the seventh end with Gunnlaugson scoring three rocks in the house and with one last Gunnlaugson shot left in the end.
The North Battleford audience gave the Muyres team one last round of applause as they headed off.
“You know what you need to do when you come here and if you don’t do it you’re not going to win,” said Muyres afterwards.
“And that’s what it was here this week, we just weren’t quite sharp enough. But at the end of the day when you go home and reassess, you kind of have a benchmark, you know where you need to be.”
Saskatoon’s Rylan Kleiter also has a C event game coming up, but that was scheduled for Friday morning as he faces the Reid Carruthers team, who lost in the B event to Calvert 7-6 in an extra end Thursday.
On the women’s side, Chelsea Carey and Isabella Wrana were to face each other Friday morning in a win-or-go-home game after their B event losses. Elena Stern was also scheduled to play Friday against Kerri Einarson.