Gushue, Epping, Jacobs get back to Brier, Einarson punches ticket to Hearts

The Canadian Press

Big names in men's curling booked Brier berths while the women's field for the Tournament of Hearts filled in Sunday.

Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue, Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs and Ontario's John Epping claimed their respective men's titles.

Manitoba's Kerri Einarson, Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville, Ontario's Rachel Homan and B.C.'s Corryn Brown added their teams to the national women's championship lineup Feb. 14-23 in Moose Jaw, Sask.

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Einarson defeated six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones 8-6 on Sunday.

Jones will get another chance to play in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in a wild-card game on the eve of the main draw.

The Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston, Ont., from Feb. 29 to March 8 will mark Gushue's 17th appearance at the Canadian championship.

He won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018. Jacobs, the 2014 Olympic champion, won the 2013 Brier.

Epping denied Glenn Howard an 18th Brier appearance for Ontario defeating the veteran 8-3 in Cornwall.

Epping finished third in the 2018 national championship in Regina and lost last year's wild-card game in Brandon, Man.

He replaced longtime third Ryan Fry with Marc Kennedy prior to this season.

The well-travelled Fry will wear Ontario colours as Epping's vice after previously representing Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northern Ontario at the Brier.

Matt Dunstone (Saskatchewan), Jim Cotter (B.C.), Jamie Koe (Northwest Territories) and James Grattan (New Brunswick) were also winners Sunday and bound for Kingston.

In Manitoba, Einarson drew the button with her final shot of the 10th behind multiple Jones counters. Jones couldn't get to shot stone and gave up the steal of one.

Brown captured the B.C. women's crown in a dramatic extra end. Sarah Wark missed a long tap to give up a steal of one in an 8-7 decision.

McCarville makes her eighth trip to the Hearts after defeating Krysta Burns 6-5 in Northern Ontario.

Homan prevailed in Ontario with a 7-6 victory over Hollie Duncan on Saturday.

Her team lost a heartbreaker Hearts final to Alberta's Chelsea Carey last year in Sydney, N.S., giving up a steal of one in the 10th and extra ends.

Einarson, McCarville, Brown and Homan dropped into a Hearts field that includes Robyn Silvernagle (Saskatchewan), Laura Walker (Alberta), Noemie Verreault (Quebec), Andrew Crawford (New Brunswick), Mary-Anne Arsenault (Nova Scotia), Erica Curtis (Newfoundland and Labrador), Kerry Galusha (Northwest Territories), Lori Eddy (Nunavut), Suzanne Birt (Prince Edward Island), Hailey Birnie (Yukon) and defending champion Carey.

Two wild-card teams — the top two non-qualified teams in the Canadian Team Rankings System (CTRS) — meet Feb. 14 in a play-in game with the winner gaining entry into the main draw the following day.

Manitoba's Tracy Fleury, Einarson and Jones ranked first to third respectively heading into their provincial championship, so the wild-play will feature Jones and Fleury.

Einarson fell in last year's wild-card game to Casey Scheidegger.

Gushue defeated Trent Skanes 3-1 in a Newfoundland final dominated by blank ends. 

The skip has played in every national championship since 2003 with the exception of 2006 when he, Nichols, Russ Howard and Jamie Korab won Olympic gold in Turin, Italy.

Jacobs downed Mike Badiuk 8-3 to take Northern Ontario.

Grattan scored two in the ninth and stole a deuce in the 10th for an 8-6 win over Jason Roach in Fredericton.

Cotter defeated three-time Canadian junior champion Tyler Tardi 10-6 in Cranbrook.

Koe beat Glen Hudy 11-5 in Hay River. Dunstone downed Kirk Muyres 4-2 in Melville.

They join defending champion Kevin Koe (Team Canada), Alek Bedard (Quebec), Jamie Murphy (Nova Scotia), Jake Higgs (Nunavut), Bryan Cochrane (Prince Edward Island) and Thomas Scoffin (Yukon) in the Brier field.

Brier representatives for Manitoba and Alberta will be decided Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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