(by Jonathan Brazeau) TRURO, N.S. — Three-time Canadian Beef Masters champion Rachel Homan continues her quest for the quad at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event.
Homan and her Ottawa-based club used thievery to steal a spot in the semis from Winnipeg’s Team Darcy Robertson with an 8-3 victory during Saturday’s quarterfinals at Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
Although it was an evenly-matched first half, tied 3-3 after four, it was all Homan from there. Robertson was just a tad too narrow on her final shot in five, not only connecting with Homan’s guard but promoting it in to concede two points and the lead.
Homan swiped another one in six and pirated two more in seven to bring out handshakes.
Team Homan third Emma Miskew explained how the fifth end swung the momentum in their favour.
“They were playing really well in the first half, we weren’t quite sharp and we sharpened up a little bit in the second half,” Miskew said. “We got a little bit of a break in the fifth end. Rachel made a nice hit and roll and then she kind of chiseled us in for our second point, then the game had kind of turned from there.
“They’re a really good team, they made a lot of shots, we were just on the right side of the inch in the second half of the game.”
Photo: Team Kaitlyn Jones, with PEI’s Lauren Lenentine on the right (Anil Mungal photo)
Team Homan, who won their third Masters title at this very rink in 2015, now play Team Chelsea Carey of Edmonton. Carey clinched a spot in the final four defeating reigning world junior champions Team Kaitlyn Jones of Halifax 7-3.
It’s a much different Slam story for Team Homan from where they were at this point last season as they missed the playoffs at the first couple events and have now reached a second consecutive semifinal to start the 2018-19 GSOC campaign.
“We like coming to Truro and are happy we get to play another game,” Miskew said. “It’s no secret, last year our Slam season, the first half of the year, wasn’t our favourite, so just to make a semifinal now, we’re really grateful that we’re still playing.
“We just want to get in one game at a time here but being able to play still on Sunday makes us really, really happy. We’re excited to play again tomorrow and we know it’ll be a battle.”
On the other side of the bracket, Olympics gold medallists Team Anna Hasselborg of Sweden doubled up Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones 8-4 to eliminate the defending champions. Team Hasselborg third Sara McManus summed up their win in one word: “Amazing.”
“Obviously, we heard that we didn’t have the best record against them for quite a while so that was a really nice win,” she added.
No, they did not as Jones, who defeated Hasselborg for gold at the worlds last season, entered the match with an 11-3 lifetime record including 5-1 in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling series. No surprise, McManus anticipated it would be a tough road ahead.
“If feels like that every time we play Jennifer Jones,” McManus said. “They are a great team. They have strong players on each position. It’s always tough but it’s really fun to play against them. It’s back and forth, but we came out with a win and we are super happy.”
Hasselborg stole a point in the first as she was lying dead buried. Jones was unable to get to it as she crashed on a guard. Jones drew against two counters to get her single back in the second but failed to freeze her last in the third allowing Hasselborg to make an open draw for two and a 3-1 lead.
The teams alternated singles in four and five and Jones, who has won a record nine GSOC women’s titles, finally got the equalizer in six by hitting and sticking around in the four-foot circle for a deuce to knot it up 4-4.
Hasselborg, who outshot Jones 74 percent to 52 percent, remained in control though and had a hit for three in the seventh but rolled too far for just a deuce. It was good enough though as Jones’s last rock of the game sailed by the house and Hasselborg tacked two more points onto the scoreboard.
Team Hasselborg, who won the GSOC season-opening Princess Auto Elite 10, hold a spot in the semis against Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta. The No. 1 seed Scheidegger shook off Team Tracy Fleury of East St. Paul, Man., 6-4.
Meanwhile, Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe remain undefeated winning their fifth consecutive game of the tournament by knocking out Team Matt Dunstone of Regina 6-4 in the last men’s quarterfinal match.
Koe will clash with Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat in the men’s semifinals while Toronto’s Team John Epping goes up against Team Niklas Edin of Sweden.
Both sets of semifinals go down Sunday at 10 a.m. AT (9 a.m. ET, Sportsnet) followed by the men’s final at 2 p.m. AT (1 p.m. ET, CBC) and ending with the women’s final at 6 p.m. AT (5 p.m. ET, Sportsnet).
NOTES: The Canadian Beef Masters is the second event and the first major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … Winners take home $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup in April. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the overall season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship.