Homan, Lawes, Gushue earn 1st-round victories at PointsBet Invitational

Top-seeded Brad Gushue earned an 8-4 win over Nicholas Deagle in first-round action Thursday at the PointsBet Invitational. Earlier in the day, Rachel Homan jumped out to an early five-point lead and rolled to a comfortable 8-4 victory over Suzanne Birt.

Penny Barker scores lone early upset with win over Hollie Duncan

Canada's Rachel Homan, seen above at the Beijing Olympics, won her opening match at the PointsBet Invitational on Thursday in Fredericton. (Nariman El-Mofty/The Associated Press)

Top-seeded Brad Gushue earned an 8-4 win over Nicholas Deagle in first-round action Thursday at the PointsBet Invitational.

The two-time Olympic curling medallist opened the game with a three-point first end before eventually taking a 6-1 lead after the fourth.After Deagle scored two in the fifth end, followed by two scoreless ends for both sides, Gushue's side put together a two-point eighth end to go up 8-3. Deagle scored one more before the game came to a close.

In other men's draw action, fourth seed Kevin Koe opened his tournament with a strong 13-4 win over Jack Smeltzer. No. 5 Reid Carruthers defeated Braden Calvert 11-2 while John Epping was also victorious with a 7-4 triumph over Mike McEwen.

Earlier in the day, Rachel Homan jumped out to an early five-point lead and rolled to a comfortable 8-4 victory over Suzanne Birt.

WATCH | That Curling Show: Team shake-ups kick off a brand new curling season:

That Curling Show: Team shake-ups kick off a brand new curling season

8 days ago
Duration 1:18:00
Hosts Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones kick off a new curling season by catching you up on all the new teams and chatting with Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones, Brett Gallant and Brad Gushue.

Homan, who throws fourth on a team now skipped by third Tracy Fleury, threw 89 per cent in the first-round win at Willie O'Ree Place.

Kaitlyn Lawes outscored Emily Deschenes 10-8 and Kristie Moore, filling in for absent skip Casey Scheidegger, edged Kerry Galusha 8-7.

Penny Barker scored three points in the 10th end for a 10-9 win over Hollie Duncan in the lone early upset.

Play continues through Sunday.

'Name game' 

The name game was played before Thursday's opening draw at the PointsBet Invitational as the Team Fleury name was iced in favour of Team Homan.

The team asked event organizers to make the switch and Curling Canada agreed to the change for this event, a federation spokesman said in an email.

Fleury joined the powerhouse rink in the off-season and is serving as skip while throwing third stones. Homan, who skipped the team last season, still throws last rock on a rink that includes second Emma Miskew and lead Sarah Wilkes.

Curling teams are traditionally named after the skip's surname.

However, making things confusing for curling fans was that the Ottawa-based team was called Team Fleury in the lead-up to the Season of Champions event in Fredericton.

World curling rankings also use Team Fleury, as does event sponsor PointsBet Canada.

Rights-holder TSN has used both names in its preview content and television graphics. The network used Team Homan for the third-seeded team's 8-4 victory over No. 14 Birt on Thursday afternoon.

Team Homan was the name of choice for the squad's season-opening bonspiel earlier this month at the Saville Shootout in Edmonton. The Grand Slam of Curling Series circuit is also using Team Homan.

If the team qualifies for the national championship - the Feb. 17-26 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — it will be called Team Fleury, a Curling Canada spokesman said.

It wasn't the only name game wrinkle at the inaugural PointsBet Invitational.

Some of the 32 teams in the field are sponsored by competing sportsbooks and are not referring to the event by its actual name.

Team Homan, which has CoolBet has a sponsor, calls the competition the Curling Canada Invitational on its website.

With files from CBC Sports

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