Team Saskatchewan, Team Wild Card #3 win tiebreakers at Tim Hortons Brier
One of the toughest things to do in competitive curling is beating the same opponent three times in a row.
Colton Flasch and his Team Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) blew that theory to bits Friday at the 2022 Tim Horton Brier. Flasch, skip of the team from the Nutana Curling Club, defeated skip Matt Dunstone’s Team Wild Card #2 (Regina) 9-5 Friday morning in one of two tiebreakers to decide the final two playoff spots.
It was the third straight win for Flasch over his provincial rivals, starting with a 6-4 win in the Saskatchewan men’s final in Whitewood and followed by an 9-8, extra-end round-robin win in the Tim Hortons Brier this week.
The teams were deadlocked for the third and final playoff spot in the nine-team Pool A round robin with 6-2 records.
“We’re playing well. Front end’s playing really good and we’re making the right shots at the right time,” said Flasch, who is supported by vice-skip Catlin Schneider, second Kevin Marsh, lead Daniel Marsh, alternate Pat Simmons and coached by Jamie Schneider.
“We could easily be undefeated right now. That’s how well we’re playing.
In the other tiebreaker, Team Wild Card #3 skipped by Jason Gunnlaugson (Morris, Man.), defeated hard-luck Mike McEwen, skip of Team Manitoba (West St. Paul) 9-3 in eight ends to also qualify. The teams finished in a tie for the third and final playoff spot in Pool B round robin with 5-3 records.
The win advanced Team Saskatchewan and Team Wild Card #3 into the preliminary round of the six-team playoffs later in the afternoon.
Gunnlaugson is also moving on after another strong performance.
“Our last two games have been pretty darn good,” said Gunnlaugson, who is supported by vice-skip Adam Casey, second Matt Wozniak, lead Connor Njegovan and alternate Rob Gordon. “Our team played very well (today). We were leading in the ends early, we were doing that all the way throughout, we got a couple of uncharacteristic misses from Mike, and were able to keep capitalizing. We had one scary end but played well through the lineup every end.
“I’ll take that all week. We’ve been pretty dialled in the last two games. Hopefully we can continue that.”
It was the second so-so performance by McEwen who had his troubles Thursday evening, shooting only 64 per cent in a 9-6 loss to Team Quebec in a game that could have wrapped up a playoff spot for the Manitobans. McEwen shot 63 per cent in the tiebreaker.
It only gets harder from here for both Saskatchewan and Team Wild Card #3. Team Saskatchewan faces former Tim Hortons Brier and Olympic champion Team Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie), skipped by Brad Jacobs, in the first round of the playoffs, while Team Wild Card #3 tangles with skip Brendan Bottcher’s Team Canada (Edmonton) in the other first-round tilt.
The winners advance to the evening draw to face one of the pool winners — skip Kevin Koe’s Team Alberta (Calgary) or Team Wild Card #1 (St. John’s) skipped by Brad Gushue, fresh off his bronze-medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The final goes Sunday, March 13.
The 2022 Tim Hortons Brier continues with a draws at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MT).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier are available at curling.ca/scoreboard.
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For ticket information for the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2022brier/tickets/
This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2022brier/nouvelles/?lang=fr