Heather Nedohin said it would be a different day and a different skip and she was true to her word. The Canadian leader who admittedly had a bad Thursday and lost two games to drop into tiebreaker territory at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, produced a tenacious 95-per-cent shooting percentage on her last pair of rocks as Canada eliminated Allison Pottinger’s U.S. contender 9-8 Friday afternoon to advance to the championship’s Page Three-Four fracas Saturday at 1 p.m.
In some respects, the issue was stretched early when Canada followed a first-end blank with a four-count in the second end.
Pottinger missed both her shots there and never was able to recover although she did manage a trio of deuces with last rock to render the final score respectable.
“I thought the team as a whole played solid,” said Nedohin, severely understating the case.
“There’s the one good thing I took away from all the e-mails and texts that I got last night — keep believing!
“I didn’t have a good day out there Thursday, I didn’t show up when the team needed me, and I just said, ‘Today I need to play well’. I had opportunities to make shots today and I think we nailed them as a team. It was a really good team show, I think.” (Continued Below…)
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The team was 93 per cent collectively with third Beth Iskiw at 93, second Jessica Mair at 94 and lead Laine Peters at 92.
The Americans were 87 as a team with skip Pottinger low scorer at 80.
“When you get a four early you just go ‘whoof,’” said Nedohin, “but it’s hard to maintain a lead. Four is a nice number early in the game, though. It’s about maintaining the lead but more than a that it’s how you respond.
“We say that all the time at the hogline — ‘OK girls, respond and respond higher.’
“We believe in each other, we hold each other accountable and good things come to us when we work hard together. I always feel I have to be a leader. That’s what the position warrants. Somebody who, at the key points, has confidence and is willing to put the broom down and believe in the three players in front of her. I strongly believe in these girls. I really like what I saw today. We were flowing out there as a unit and we were having some fun.”
Saturday’s match against upstart Korea skipped by Ji-Sun Kim, an eight-game winner over the week, presents as different kind of challenge for the Canadians whose record going in is 8-and-4.
“It’s interesting because I found the last time we were playing them (Korea) I had to go shot by shot,” said Nedohin. “I can’t necessarily anticipate what they might do because they’re not going to use what I normally think is typical strategy. So it has to be rock-by-rock strategy with them. There’s a little more simplicity about it.
“However, they play with tons of rocks in play. They freeze to everything. They come around everything. And I think that means we have to be much more precise.”
Nedohin was reminded her team is following a similar path to the route that Amber Holland’s Canucks forged to win silver a year ago in Denmark.
“I definitely thought of Amber this morning,” said Nedohin. “I think of that magazine, she was wearing white in one of the pictures, and I thought, ‘Oh, she was playoff bound’. They were a team we admire and I hope we can get a little feel from what they did last year.
“A lot of Canadian girls in front of us have done great jobs and we hope we can do the same.”
Pottinger, with Nicole Joraanstad, Natalie Nicholson and Tabitha Peterson in support, was trying to win an eighth straight result. The team was 0-4 out of the gate before winning seven in a row to survive the round robin by the skin of its teeth.
But the second end Friday betrayed the U.S. cause.
“I don’t know that there were nerves in play,” offered the slender St. Paul, Minn., skip.
“I think the ice was moving more today and my first rock sort of set it up for them where we curled too much. We had nice weight. It was broom placement on my second one. I guess I needed more ice. I can’t throw an in-turn that hard and make a double with that kind of broom.” (Continued below…)
She flashed the double attempt.
In the eighth end, Pottinger eschewed an opportunity to confront Nedohin with three counters on her last rock and chose, instead, a difficult tight bury in the four-foot. But she was heavy and the rock slipped through to the back of the rings.
“We could have hit for three but even if I make that we’re not in the four-foot,” Pottinger said.
“We really felt like we had to steal in the eighth and get closer to them so we took the risk and went hard for the steal and tried to draw in there and I didn’t think I threw that kind of weight but it just kept sliding.”
Still, it wasn’t a totally throwaway week for the Yanks.
“We learned a bunch about ourselves as a team this week,” said Pottinger.
“We are really gritty and we want to come back and do better. And I think that’s going to keep us fired up for the next couple of years. I’m incredibly proud of my girls, even today they played super well and they didn’t let us down in that game.”
The winner of Saturday’s Page playoff advances to a 6 p.m. semi-final. The loser tumbles into a bronze-medal argument on Sunday at 9 a.m.