Team North America closing the gap in race for World Financial Group Continental Cup title

Team World was taught a valuable lesson Saturday at the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.  It’s not how many games you win. It’s when you win them.

Team World kept piling up wins when one-point victories were offered for them through the first eight draws at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, building a comfortable lead, but Team North America pounced like a cat Saturday night when the points-per-win were doubled up to two.

After sweeping all three Mixed Team Play events in the evening draw, and the six points with them, Team North America has cut their opponent’s lead significantly. Team North America now trails by five points, 17.5-12.5, and it’s game on in Sunday’s Skins games, where 30 points in six games are still available.

Suddenly, Team North America’s task is not so daunting after taking it on the chin from Team World most of the week.

“It’s anybody’s match now,” beamed Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., who guided his Team North America team to a convincing 7-3 victory over Team World, led by young Scottish skip Bruce Mouat. “There’s 30 (points) on the line tomorrow. In skins, you get a couple of carryovers and the tide can turn real quick. It was a fun night to play. Everybody had a lot of energy, and once the scores started turning in our favour, I think it even raised the energy.”

Joanne Courtney and Ben Hebert sweet Rachel Homan’s stone towards the house during Draw 9 at the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Gushue raised his game Saturday night, as did the other North American teams. For the first time all week, they looked focussed and determined.

“The ice was tough on Day One,” said Gushue, who was supported by third Kaitlyn Lawes (Winnipeg), second Brett Gallant (St. John’s) and lead Dawn McEwen (Winnipeg). “I think everybody is a little more comfortable with it now. Sometimes you just need a match to turn. We had a couple of those. Tonight we knew we had to play good with two points on the line in each of them.”

It was also a good night for Ottawa’s Rachel Homan who has struggled a bit this week. But she found her mojo and exacted a bit of revenge over Team World, skipped by Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg, posting a crucial 7-4 win. Hasselborg had beaten Homan 6-5 in Saturday’s morning Women’s Team Scramble.

This time, though, Homan had all the answers, including a superb double in the fifth to go up 5-2.

“We were on the wrong side of the inch in the first couple of days,” said Homan, who was supported by third B.J. Neufeld (Winnipeg), second Joanne Courtney (Edmonton) and lead Ben Hebert (Chestermere, AB). “We figured it out and it was nice to play all mixed up today. Everybody rose to the occasion.”

Team North America completed the sweep when American skip John Shuster, the 2018 Olympic gold-medallist, led his team to a 6-4 win over Team World’s Peter de Cruz . Shuster, who also got some payback over de Cruz after a loss to the Swiss skip in the afternoon’s Men’s Team Scramble, received great contributions from his all-U.S. team, including third Jamie Sinclair, second Matt Hamilton and lead Monica Walker. He also made a spectacular cross-ice double in the eighth end to secure the win.

Team North America will be looking to continue its mastery over Team World by winning its seventh straight championship with the following games on Sunday:

11 a.m. (all times PST)
Skins

Sheet A – Jennifer Jones (North America) vs. Silvana Tirinzoni (World)
Sheet B – Mark Nichols/Jamie Sinclair/Brett Gallant/Taylor Anderson (North America) vs. Oskar Eriksson/Anna Hasselborg/Christoffer Sundgren/Sofia Mabergs (World)
Sheet C – John Shuster (North America) vs. Benoît Schwarz (World)

4 p.m.
Skins

Sheet A – Rachel Homan (North America) vs. Eve Muirhead (World)
Sheet B – Brad Gushue/Sarah Anderson/Geoff Walker/Monica Walker (North America) vs. Niklas Edin/Sarah McManus/Rasmus Wranå/ Agnes Knochenhauer (World)
Sheet C – Kevin Koe (North America) vs. Bruce Mouat (World)

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule. The event is also live in the United States on ESPN3.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup format pits Team North America against Team World in a series of Team Play, Mixed Doubles, Team Scramble, Mixed Team Play and Skins games. Teams earn points by winning games and the first to score 30.5 points is declared the World Financial Group Continental Cup champion.

For ticket information, as well as team lineups and the full event draw for the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, go to https://www.curling.ca/2019continentalcup/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at: https://www.curling.ca/?lang=fr