For the two skips facing off in today’s Page Three-Four playoff at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts, clear trends emerged through round-robin play: Ontario’s Rachel Homan could call on up big weight any time, and Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey could make key draws at will.
The two worlds collided, literally, and it was Homan who blasted the rings in a pivotal fifth end, leaving her opponent nowhere to draw to, scoring five and wresting control of the contest en route to a 13-5 win and a berth in the semi-final against Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland later today.
The winner of that game will go to Sunday’s final against Canada’s Jennifer Jones.
After a wide-open first end, Smith-Dacey stole one in the second only to see Homan score a deuce with hammer in the third and force the Bluenosers to take a single in four.
That set up the turning point in the game as a congested house awaited the Nova Scotia skip’s first stone. As she did all week, Smith-Dacey made a clutch draw to grab a piece of the lid and sat shot against five Ontario rocks. Cue Homan’s up-weight.
Perfectly executed, she drove her own stone back, punching out the Nova Scotia counter completely covering the button, with protection up front.
For Smith-Dacey, there was nowhere to go. She played up weight to try and spill as many Ontario red rocks as possible to mitigate the damage, but still left Homan an open draw for five and that was the ball game.
“It was a pretty short runback and we knew it was a chance for a really big end,” said Homan.
“She (Smith-Dacey) couldn’t really put it in a good place coming in there. As soon as it stopped we were running down to the hack,” she said, adding her “heartbeat was up there,” in anticipating of grabbing the game by the throat.
A reflective Smith-Dacey credited her opponent with a great shot and like so many opponents in P.E.I. this week, is somewhat amazed at the kind of weight Homan can throw – accurately.
“It was one bad end, they just had all the angles and we just couldn’t get out of it,” she said.
Up until that point, the Nova Scotians felt pretty good about their game, it was just that fifth end that did them in.
“Whenever I needed to hit the button, I hit it, but that’s the thing when you leave her the up-weight shot, she’s looking for it all the time,” said Smith-Dacey.
After the break, Nova Scotia scored one in six, before the teams exchanged deuces in seven and eight.
The ninth would be the last end of the affair, Homan finishing it up in style by spilling two Nova Scotia counters and sticking her shooter as she put up a four-spot for the runaway score.
Homan says the day off Friday was helpful for her crew, mainly because lead Lisa Weagle has been hampered by a shoulder injury this week which has required physio to relieve.
The day off was a bonus, particularly because the team had to go right back on the ice to play the semi-final after a short break.
For Smith-Dacey, who will take on the loser of tonight’s semi-final in the bronze-medal game Sunday afternoon, it’s been a long, challenging season, one in which she was supposed to be third on a Colleen Jones-skipped crew before bacterial meningitis sidelined the six-time Scotties champ.
“We want to come out and win the third spot tomorrow,” said the Nova Scotia skip. “Of course we’re disappointed, but we’re certainly proud of ourselves, too.”
For Homan, as it was all week, nothing changes heading into the semi-final. She’ll concentrate on her team’s play and not so much on her opponent.
“We’re not really too worried about the other team,” said Homan, adding Holland is a “great skip who can make all of the shots.”
“We have to worry about our own game and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”