Unheralded Chelsea Carey, directing a Manitoba team out of Morden, Man., fiercely protected its unbeaten record and extended it to four games on Thursday afternoon in the Capital One Canada Cup of Curling.
Chelsea executed two precise shots in an extra end and defeated defending champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon 5-4 at the Cranbrook RecPlex. The loss dropped Lawton’s record to 1-3, precarious in a six-game qualifying assignment.
In one other women’s fracas, Rachel Homan directed her Ottawa entry to a 9-6 decision over Heather Nedohin of Edmonton. Homan is 2-and-1 while Nedohin dropped to 1-3.
Men’s contenders skipped by Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., and Kevin Koe of Calgary remained in contention, meanwhile. Both won their games in three starts, Howard 8-4 over surprisingly winless Mike McEwen of Winnipeg and Koe 9-6 over winless Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie who lost his fourth straight.
“You don’t want to lose too many more,” said Howard, who was upended by Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock on Wednesday night.
“We were much better than that last game,” said Howard. “They scored me at 90 per cent but I think that was a generous 90. I don’t think I played that well.
“Two losses is no guarantee and you just have to keep putting wins under your belt. I’d be surprised if three teams go 5-and-1 so two losses might get there but you never know.”
Howard close out his tilt with McEwen by posting a three in the eight end that fattened up a one-point edge.
“The games aren’t getting any easier,” said the Ontario skip. “Mike McEwen has been the hottest team on the planet. We got him on an off-day. It was kind of nice. They’re not as sharp as we’re used to seeing them. They’re in a bit of a funk right now. I’m sure they’ll snap out of it.”
Koe stole a single in the fourth and was up 5-2 after six against the Soo squad.
“We pulled it out but we didn’t play as well as we did in the first two games,” said the former N.W.T. junior skip. “But you need one of those here when you have to pull one out when you’re not at your best.
“It’s hard to predict records because the teams here are so good. Anybody can beat anybody. By the end, it’s humanly possible that 3-3 could get you something. But you don’t want to be relying on other people for help.”
Carey was confronted with a tough fight from Lawton who was trying to rebound from two opening-day defeats.
In the end, Carey was required to toss an in-turn takeout that was dangerous only because of a fairly tight guard in front of the rings.
“You can’t get a better start than this,” said the unflappable 27-year-old skip. “We figure one more win tomorrow and go from there. Five-and-one should get us something. But we try to stay out of all that figuring stuff and just concentrate on our games.”
Carey admitted her team is going better than ever at this point in the season.
“Yeah, this is as good as we’ve been all year. We’ve won three or four in a row this year but, considering this field, it is as good as we’ve been.
“I think knowing how competitive it is helps us. That was more noticeable for us last year. We played our best against the really good teams.”
Carey closes out the qualifying schedule today against Nedohin and four-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.
“I think maybe 4-and-2 will get you to the playoffs,” suggested Homan, the Canadian junior champ of two seasons ago.
“I think we’re definitely right there with the rest of them.”
Homan opened with a deuce and was never headed by her foe from Edmonton.
In 7 p.m. MT games today, Homan goes right back at it against Jones (1-2) of Winnipeg and two-time Canada Cup champion Shannon Kleibrink (2-1) of Calgary plays defending Canadian champion Amber Holland (1-2) of Kronau, Sask.
In men’s action, Olympic gold-medallist Kevin Martin of Edmonton faces Howard, defending Canadian champion Jeff Stoughton of Winnipeg tackles Koe, and McEwen goes against Laycock (1-2).
Seven teams are involved in men’s and women’s round-robin qualifiers leading to semi-final matches on Saturday and championship finals Sunday. The winners become the first teams to qualify for the Tim Hortons Canadian Olympic Curling Trials at Winnipeg two years from this week.