Team Canada will take some important momentum into the playoffs after winning both of its Friday games at the inaugural Pan Continental Curling Championships.
All momentum is important, of course, but the fact that Canada’s Kerri Einarson and her team from Gimli, Man., defeated two of the three teams that will join them in the playoffs at the WinSport Event Centre in Calgary would seem to send a message that this team is firing on all cylinders at precisely the right time.
After beating Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa (6-2) to open the day, Einarson, vice-skip Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris dealt Team Seungyoun Ha of South Korea (6-2) a 7-4 defeat in the final draw of round-robin play.
The result means Canada (7-1) will finish second in the nine-team round robin behind Team Tabitha Peterson of the United States (7-1), who finishes first based on its defeat of Canada on Thursday.
Canada will play Japan in one semifinal, while the U.S. will take on South Korea in the other, with both games at 1 p.m. (all times Mountain). The winners advance to the gold-medal game Sunday at 6 p.m., while the losers will play for bronze Sunday at 1 p.m.
“We’re definitely playing really well, and to beat two really good teams that have been playing well all week (is good),” said Einarson, whose team is rounded out by alternate Rachel Brown, team coach Reid Carruthers and national coach Renee Sonnenberg. “But we know we have to come out really sharp (Saturday).”
After surrendering a steal of one in the first (Einarson needed to make a double-takeout on her last throw to avoid giving up more), Canada would answer back emphatically with three in the second, set up by a wonderful hit-and-roll by Sweeting.
Canada would steal one in the third thanks to a come-around draw by Einarson that Ha couldn’t dislodge on back-to-back runback attempts.
South Korea would come back with a pair in the fourth to cut the margin to one, but Einarson would make arguably her two finest shots of these championships to close out the next two ends.
In the fifth, she made a nervy skinny angle-raise takeout to score a single when South Korea appeared locked in for a game-tying steal. And in the sixth, Einarson made a spectacular raise hit-and-roll behind a guard, and stole a point when Ha wrecked on a guard trying to remove Canada’s shot rock.
“I made a few clutch shots; I know I missed a few easy ones, too, but I had some rock issues,” said Einarson. “Val kept saying to me, ‘You’re throwing them really well. Just stay with it.’ Once we got that figured out, it helped.”
In the 10th, following a clever tap-and-roll that left South Korea sitting two behind a corner guard, Einarson coolly drew the four-foot for the win.
“(Einarson) had a great game,” said Birchard. “I think we were all kind of trying to find our footing a little bit with the speed. But I think all in all it was a great game and we kept control for most of the game.”
Now Canada finds itself two wins from gold and making history in this first edition of the Pan Continental Championships.
“It’s always great to finish off the round robin with a win and head into the playoffs with some momentum,” said Birchard.
In other Friday night games, the U.S. was a 9-2 winner over New Zealand’s Team Jessica Smith (4-4); Kazakhstan’s Angelina Ebauyer (2-6) capped a two-win final day with a 13-7 win over Brazil’s Team Isis Oliveira (0-8); and Australia’s Team Jennifer Westhagen (2-6) beat Hong Kong’s Team Ling-Yue Hung (1-7) 9-6.
The 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships continue on Saturday with the men’s semifinals at 9 a.m. Canada’s Team Brad Gushue (6-1), who finished first in round-robin play, takes on fourth-place Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa (3-4), while second-place Team Korey Dropkin of the U.S. (6-1) plays third-place Team Byeongjin Jeong (6-1).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championship are available by clicking here.
TSN and RDS2 will provide coverage of select games from the 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships. Click here for the full schedule.