Look out! Probably the best women’s playoff curling team in the history of the game is poised to perform its magic again.
Four-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones advanced Saturday afternoon to the championship final of the Capital One Canada Cup with a dominating 6-3 semi-final decision against two-time champion Shannon Kleibrink of Calgary.
The win squared an account in this seven-team event leading to $26,000 top money and the initial berth in the Tim Hortons Olympic Curling Trials two years hence.
“I thought that we made the shots when we had to in that game which is always what you have to do,” assessed Jones afterward.
The winner stole two points in the first end when Kleibrink twice tossed wide on out-turns at Jones rocks in the four-foot ring.
“The two early, when we didn’t have the hammer, was good for us,” said Jones, who directed Kaitlyn Lawes, Joelle Sabourin and Dawn Askin. “That gave us the momentum early and we didn’t look back.
“I felt good all week here and that was a nice way to go to the final.”
Kleibrink’s team — Amy Nixon, Bronwen Webster, Carolyn Darbyshire — was unable to mount any sort of offence in the match. Jones stole singles in the sixth and ninth ends when Kleibrink was heavy and then saw a rock pick up debris.
“We found a real straight spot in the first end and it cost us huge,” admitted the Calgary skip. “We couldn’t recover.
“The ice usually does change for the playoffs. I know it but I didn’t catch on to it. Hey, the ice is still great. It’s just different.
It wasn’t the kind on which you could make the come-arounds later in the game.”
Kleibrink said she was satisfied with her lot, considering “how few games we’ve had to get here”.
Jones, who won the Canada Cup in 2007, qualified with a 3-3 record while Kleibrink, who won in 2005 and 2009, was 5-1.
“It doesn’t really matter where you finish in the round robin as long as you get that foot in the door,” said Jones.
“We went the hard way, now we’re in and we’ll try to play our best tomorrow and see what happens.”
Jones has a habit of rising from the canvas after qualifying from the last gasp at the Scotties, an event she has won four times.
In 2008 at Regina, Jones had four losses when she survived a tiebreaker and then won three straight sudden-death playoff matches including a 6-4 extra-end heist against Kleibrink..
In 2009 at Victoria, she again required a tiebreaker win on the back of four losses, then again won three straight with her back to the wall.
In 2010 at Sault Ste. Marie, she finished second to Kathy O’Rourke’s P.E.I. upstarts with three losses, then defeated the Islanders twice in hair-raisers.
In short, the Jones record suggests playoff domination.
“I don’t know,” she mused Saturday. “I think we’re a pretty consistent team, we show that throughout the bonspiel season and we usually give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs. That’s all you ever want. Then once you get to the playoffs we’ve had some success at turning it up a notch.”
The Jones team this morning (9 a.m.) will face a younger Manitoba opponent skipped by Chelsea Carey (5-1 going in). Carey has won only two of her last seven jousts with Jones.