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McCarville claims third place, now on to tonight’s semi against Kleibrink

The long shot took her best shot, and came up just short.

Amber Holland of Kronau, Sask., the only skip without Scotties experience to make the playoff round at this week’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, presented by Monsanto, pushed Krista McCarville to an extra end in the final women’s tiebreaker, eventually losing 7-6 at Rexall Place on Friday afternoon.

McCarville, of Thunder Bay, Ont., now advances to the women’s semifinal against Shannon Kleibrink’s Calgary outfit on Friday at 6 p.m. MT.

“We battled. We had a lot of games where we didn’t play to our potential, and it would have been real easy to fold up our tent and go home,” said Holland, whose Kronau Curling Club quartet includes Kim Schneider, Tammy Schneider and Heather Kalenchuk.

“But we stayed in it. Even in this game, we didn’t play to our potential in the first part, but we just kept at ’em and kept at ’em. Unfortunately . . . we didn’t make it.”

Holland, McCarville and Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon had all finished the women’s round-robin portion of these Olympic Trials with 4-3 records, necessitating a pair of tiebreakers in advance of Friday night’s semifinal.

McCarville had scored a critical four points in the fifth end of Friday morning’s first tiebreaker, a 7-4 win over Lawton.

And on Friday afternoon, the 27-year-old from the Fort William Curling Club rang up another four points, this time in the sixth end, to jump into a 5-2 lead.

On her first shot of the sixth, McCarville made a double-kill through a narrow port to lie three, and finished the panel with a hit-and-stick for four.

“We like (those four-enders) today. I’ll take it,” said McCarville, who heads up a rink that includes Tara George, Kari MacLean and Lorraine Lang. “I had to squeeze through that hole, or else we give up a steal. It was a big one.  It builds a lot of confidence in our team, because we’re building those ends and I’m making those last shots, and they’re usually big shots.”

Holland had slipped up with an attempted freeze on her first rock of that sixth, which had given McCarville, a three-time Ontario provincial champion, a chance at four.

“Krista made two great shots. If my first rock goes two inches more, she doesn’t have the double on her first one,” said Holland. “I just missed the freeze . . . that was the right shot. I just needed to execute a little better, a foot-and-a-half less weight so it would curl up enough. Even if I didn’t get shot on the freeze, as long as I’m second shot, she’s only getting two.”

To her credit, Holland didn’t allow that four-ender to become the defining moment of Friday afternoon’s tiebreaker for third place.

The Kronau crew scored two in the ninth to make the score 6-5, as Holland drew for a deuce after McCarville’s tough double-kill attempt took out just one yellow stone.

And in the 10th end, Holland forced McCarville into attempting a tough raised double-kill. But her own rock didn’t clear the house, as one of Holland’s stones stayed in the eight-foot as shot rock and tied the score 6-6.

In the 11th, however, with McCarville holding the hammer and laying two, Holland attempted an in-turn draw to the back of the four-foot, but it slid too far and the game was in the books.

“We just stayed in it, which was good,” said Holland. “But we play this game for more than just winning. If the players out there on that ice play just to win every single event they enter, they’re going to be thoroughly disappointed. You’re not going to win everything.  It’s been well worth it. It’s been a great ride. And we enjoyed ourselves.”

McCarville now prepares for her third game in a day, this one against Kleibrink, the 2006 bronze medalist at the 2006 Torino Olympics who finished 5-2 in round-robin play this week.  The last time she played this much in one day was . . .

“Last year?” she guessed. “Not with this kind of pressure, though. We made it to a tiebreaker in the Scotties one year, but we lost out in the first tiebreaker.  “This is probably the most in one day.  For me, (the big challenge is) mental. I’m not sweeping, so it’s not physical. It’s more reading the ice, thinking about Plan B, what they’re going to do, what we’re going to do.”

Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, who topped the round-robin standings with a 6-1 record, awaits Friday’s semifinal winner in Saturday’s final, which begins at 6 p.m. MT.

Meanwhile, in men’s action, Glenn Howard (6-1) of Coldwater, Ont., and Jeff Stoughton (5-2) of Winnipeg square off in the men’s semifinal on Saturday at 1 p.m. MT.

Edmonton’s Kevin Martin (6-1) will meet the winner in Sunday’s 1 p.m. MT final.