Laycock a step closer to playoffs at 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup

BRANDON, Man. — Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock hasn’t had a ton of success at the Home Hardware Canada Cup over the years, but the 34-year-old skip is taking steps to change that in 2016.

Laycock made a precision double takeout to score five in the fifth end en route to a decisive 9-3 triumph over 2014 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., in men’s tiebreaker action Saturday morning at Westman Communications Group Place at the Keystone Centre.

With the victory, Laycock, third Kirk Muyres, second Colton Flasch, lead Dallan Muyres and coach Lyle Muyres advance to the Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, final men’s tiebreaker, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (all times CST) against Toronto’s John Epping.

The winner will advance to Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal against Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers, with a trip to Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. championship final against Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s (skipped by Mark Nichols) on the line.

“We have some momentum now,” said Laycock, who’s never made the playoffs at the Home Hardware Canada Cup. “We were a little bit tired at the end of the round robin and I think it showed in our play. But a little bit of rest now and I think we’re ready to go.”

Team Jacobs was up 2-1 through four ends after a nice steal of one in the fourth, but Laycock responded emphatically in the fifth, and Jacobs didn’t have an answer.

“A little shaky start; we weren’t positioning our rocks really well, but we got a good setup in the top of the house in that fifth end,” said Laycock. “They had to gamble a bit, and they showed me enough on that last one so that we had a chance to make a big shot.”

Jacobs goes home with $6,000 ($2,000 for each round-robin win), but also disappointed after losing his final two round-robin games, and then the tiebreaker.

Val Sweeting reacts as teammate Dana Ferguson takes a tumble during the women's tiebreaker on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Val Sweeting reacts as teammate Dana Ferguson takes a tumble during the women’s tiebreaker on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“This is an eye opener for us,” admitted Jacobs. “We’ve got to get a lot better if we expect to be in the Olympic trials a year from now. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us. I know we’re committed to doing whatever it takes in order to play better. We’ve got to be a lot more consistent. It’s back to the drawing board, the four of us with our coach, our sports psych, and I’m confident we can get better.”

It was one of two tiebreakers on the ice on Saturday morning; in the women’s tiebreaker, Winnipeg’s Kerri Einarson made a double takeout to score three in the 10th end for an 8-6 win over 2014 Home Hardware Canada Cup champion Val Sweeting of Edmonton.

Einarson, vice-skip Selena Kaatz, second Liz Fyfe, lead Kristin MacCuish and coach Patti Wuthrich will take on defending champion Rachel Homan of Ottawa in the women’s semifinal Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The semifinal winner advances to Sunday’s women’s final at 1:30 p.m. against Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones.

Einarson was able to take advantage of a 10th-end mishap when Team Sweeting second Dana Ferguson fell while sweeping Sweeting’s first-rock draw and burned the stone.

“I don’t know that it would have changed the outcome of the game because I think I was light anyway,” said Sweeting. “We still had an opportunity in the end (when Sweeting attempted a hit-and-roll that would have likely forced Einarson to draw for one to get to an extra end). I just called the girls on to sweep a little early and we nosed it and left her that shot (double takeout for the win). We felt like a cat out there with nine lives and we just didn’t have one more.”

Team Einarson was an 8-5 winner over Team Homan in their round-robin tilt, on Wednesday, and said a similar performance will be required in the semifinal.

Kerri Einarson celebrates her tiebreaker win on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Kerri Einarson celebrates her tiebreaker win on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We definitely have to come out firing against Homan; I’m sure they’re going to want to get us this time,” said Einarson. “We’re definitely going to have to come out with our ‘A’ game. We won’t change our strategy; we just have to go out there and make some shots, put some pressure on them and capitalize on their misses.”

The winning teams in Sunday’s finals will take home $14,000, while second place earns $9,000 and third place gets $5,000 in addition to $2,000 per round-robin win.

Additionally, Sunday’s champions will qualify for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa, where Canada’s four-player Olympic representatives will be decided.

Because both Jones and Homan have qualified for the Trials, only Team Einarson has a chance to qualify; if she doesn’t win, the Trials berth will go to the leading team on the 2016-17 Canadian Team Ranking System as of May 1, 2017.

The winning men’s and women’s teams also will qualify to be part of Team North America at the 2017 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, Jan. 12-15 in Las Vegas.

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