© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Canadian women’s champion Rachel Homan releases a shot during Tuesday night’s opening draw of the 2014 Players’ Championship at Eastlink Arena in Summerside. Second stone Alison Kreviazuk, left, and lead Lisa Weagle are ready to sweep.
SUMMERSIDE – The 2014 Canadian curling champions are off to winning starts at the 2014 Players’ Championship.
Rachel Homan defeated Heather Nedohin 7-2 in six ends while Kevin Koe made a clutch hammer shot in the final eighth end to edge Steve Laycock 7-6. In other Draw 1 games at Eastlink Arena on Tuesday night, Silvana Tirinzoni scored four points in the final three ends, including back-to-back steals, to overcome a 5-2 deficit and edge Olympic gold-medallist Jennifer Jones 6-5, Mike McEwen outscored Sven Michel 6-4 and Eve Muirhead defeated Michele Jaggi 7-5.
“The team played well,” said Homan following her rink’s first game since taking home the silver medal at the world championships in Saint John, N.B., last month. “Obviously, we are learning the ice, and it was a good game.”
A winning start is important for Homan, third stone Emma Miskew, second stone Alison Kreviazuk and lead Lisa Weagle.
“There are not too many games, so you have to try and win them all,” added Homan. “You can’t have too many losses with five games.”
Koe, who is supported by third stone Pat Simmons, second stone Carter Rycroft and lead Nolan Thiessen, also agreed it is imperative to get off to a winning start in a round-robin format.
“It’s huge, especially when you look at the field and who you have to play,” said Koe. “We have (Glenn) Howard, (Kevin) Martin, (Brad) Gushue our last three (games), so we have to get off to a good start.”
The Players’ Championship is the final event of the season on the Grand Slam of Curling. It features the top 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams on the World Curling Tour.
“The Players’ Championship is always amazing because they bring the top teams from all over, it doesn’t matter where you are from. It is a really tough field always.”
Against Nedohin, Homan counted three in the fourth end to open up a commanding 6-1 lead.
“We were able to get some rocks in there, and put them in a good spot,” said Homan. “She had to make a tough double, and just wrecked on the guard and we had a free draw for three. That was a big end for us.”
For Koe, it came right down to the game’s final shot.
“They played a perfect end really,” said Koe, who knocked Laycock’s shot rock out and sat in the centre of the four-foot with a piece of the button. “It was totally guarded, I couldn’t see any of it. It definitely wasn’t easy, we called it good.”
Comes up light
The Jones-Tirinzoni game also came down to the last shot. Jones’ attempt came up light.
McEwen, meanwhile, counted three deuces with last-rock advantage against Michel, Muirhead also scored three deuces and never trailed in her game against Jaggi.