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Jacobs rink struggles in National opener

'We got a few breaks early and then we gave those back later in the game'
Jacobs - Tuesday (2)
Photo courtesy Anil Mungal of Sportsnet

Entering as the defending champion, it wasn’t the ideal start for Brad Jacobs and his team from the Community First Curling Centre locally at the National.

Playing on home ice, the Jacobs rink opened the third Grand Slam of Curling event of the season with a 6-3 loss at the Essar Centre on Tuesday night on the opening day of action in the six-day event.

The Jacobs rink, which includes third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden struggled out of the gate

“It was an up-and-down game for us,” said Team Jacobs second E.J. Harnden. “We got a few breaks early and then we gave those back later in the game.”

“It’s definitely not the way we wanted to start the event,” Harnden also said. “We’re obviously not happy with it but it doesn’t seem like we ever make it easy for ourselves when we’re playing at home. We haven’t ever really played our best except for when we’ve snuck our way into the playoffs.”

Jacobs would open the scoring with a steal of a pair in the fourth end after a Gunnlaugson draw would come up light. Jacobs would set up the steal thanks to his first shot of the end removing three Gunnlaugson stones.

Gunnlaugson would get on the board thanks to a draw for two in the following end before taking the lead in the sixth end thanks to a steal of two.

“We were starting to fade a little bit and after that it was an uphill battle,” Harnden said. “It wasn’t our best game. We made some nice shots and we missed a few too, but as the game went on, for some reason we started to get a little more inconsistent and unfortunately when you’re down and not playing well, it’s tough to climb back.”

Looking to even things up, Jacobs would score one in the seventh end while looking to blank the end after the final Jacobs rock stuck around.

“In the five-rock rule, (scoring) three is never out of the realm of possibility,” Harnden said. “Our goal was to blank the end but unfortunately we missed our last shot.”

Gunnlaugson said the crowd cheering  for Team Jacobs was motivation for his team as well.

“The crowd was so into the game that they really got us revved up to embrace the heel role and play a really solid team game,” Gunnlaugson said. “There was nobody else cheering for us so the four of us had to stick together.”

Next up for the Jacobs rink is a matchup in Wednesday’s evening draw against Greg Drummond of Stirling, Scotland. Start time is 8 p.m.

Other draw two action saw Kevin Koe of Calgary, Alta. beat Drummond 7-3 in seven ends.

John Epping of Toronto, Ont. beat Rui Liu of Harbin, China 5-3. In an extra end, Brad Gushue of St. John’s, Nfld. beat Mike McEwen of Winnipeg, Man. 7-6.

The lone women’s game of the night draw saw Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont. beat Rachel Homan of Ottawa, Ont. 5-4.

In the first draw of the event on Tuesday, the lone men’s game saw Korean Chang-Min Kim beat Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg, Man. 7-3.

In women’s action in draw one, Val Sweeting of Edmonton, Alta. beat Binia Feltscher of Flims, Switzerland 9-5.

Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, Man. blanked Alina Paetz of Zurich, Switzerland 7-0 in four ends while Bingyu Wang of Harbin, China beat Allison Flaxey 6-3.