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Team Homan headed to final at 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup

Rachel Homan finds herself just one win away from the promised land — a trip back to her hometown, to play for a berth in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Homan’s Ottawa team ground out a 7-5 win over Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., on Friday morning at Revolution Place in Grande Prairie, Alta. The win improved Team Homan’s record to 5-0 and clinched a berth in Sunday’s women’s final at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

And while the top prize of $14,000 will go to the winner of the women’s final, it is the other bauble on the line here this week that will mean the most to Homan — a direct-entry berth into the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa, the event that will decide Canada’s four-player representative for the 2018 Winter Games.

“We’re not thinking about the Trials berth,” insisted Homan, whose team ran its win streak to 25 games, dating back to the Trail Appliances Autumn Gold over the Thanksgiving weekend in Calgary. “We’re just happy we made another final — then you just have to go out and play your best, and if it’s not enough, it’s not enough. If it is? That’s exciting.”

Fleury (1-4) pushed Homan hard — a seventh-end deuce from Fleury left the teams tied 4-4, and she was in good position for a steal in the eighth.

But Homan, as she is prone to do, delivered in the clutch with a wonderful inturn angle-raise takeout to score three and all but seal the victory.

“That was a great team shot,” said Homan. “The girls swept it really well, and Emma called unreal line just to get it by the guard.”

Homan and Co. will complete round-robin play tonight (6:30 p.m. MT) against Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont. (2-2), and will have Saturday off to prepare for the final.

“It’s huge for us,” said Homan, whose voice has grown steadily raspier this week. “I can’t really talk right now, so a day of rest is really big for us right now. Honestly, I didn’t even know until mid-week that there was a bye to the final. We’re just trying to win every game and see where the chips fall at the end. But it’s huge to get that break because we need some rest right now.

Defending champ Val Sweeting, meanwhile, took a significant step towards a playoff berth on Friday morning.

Sweeting rolled to a 10-4 win over fellow Edmontonian Kelsey Rocque — a possible preview of the 2016 Alberta Scotties provincial final.

With the win, Sweeting, third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown locked up a tiebreaker berth, and book their spot in the final three with a victory later today against reigning Scotties champs Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg.

“We’re really excited,” said Brown, whose team took control early with three in the second end, and pulled away with a steal of three in the seventh. “We went out there wanting to learn the ice early and feel good, and we did those things early and happened to come up with the win, so we’re happy.”

The showdown with Jones at 6:30 p.m. MT will be a rematch of the thrilling 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts final — won by Team Jones, 6-5.

“I think it’ll be a really good game, back and forth the whole time,” said Brown. “Both teams will come out firing, and it’s always fun to play Team Jones. We love playing them, and it should be a great game.”

Team Jones won its third straight on Thursday, opening the game with three in the first end, adding three more in the fifth and four in the seventh en route to a 11-4 win over Winnipeg’s Kristy McDonald. Jones improved to 3-2 while McDonald dropped to 1-4.

In men’s action, Calgary’s Kevin Koe took over sole possession of top spot in the round-robin standings with a 7-4 win over Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers.

Saskatoon's Steve Laycock is hanging in their for a playoff berth after beating Pat Simmons on Friday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock is hanging in their for a playoff berth after beating Pat Simmons on Friday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Koe was down 3-1 after three ends, but roared back to score two in the fourth, steal one in the sixth and two more in the seventh and never looked back.

Koe improved to 4-1 while Carruthers is on the ropes for a playoff spot with a 1-4 record.

“We played well,” said Koe. “Obviously, it was a bit of a shaky start, giving up a deuce in the first end, but after that we didn’t miss much and kept the pressure on, and got a couple misses on shots Reid usually doesn’t miss. But that happens. It was a good bounceback for us (after suffering the team’s first loss on Thursday).”

In the other men’s game, Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock kept his playoff hopes with a 5-1 win over Calgary’s Pat Simmons.

Laycock improved to 2-3 while Simmons dropped to 3-2.

In addition to the top prize of $14,000 and berths in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, the men’s and women’s champions here also will qualify to join Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, Jan. 14-17 in Las Vegas.

The 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws today at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Hardware Canada Cup. Click here for the complete schedule

The Home Hardware Canada Cup format calls for the men’s and women’s teams to play a three-day round robin, with the first-place teams advancing to their respective finals on Sunday, while the second- and third-place teams meet in semifinals on Saturday, after any required tiebreakers, to determine the other finalists.

For ticket information for the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, go to www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/tickets/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2015canadacup/?lang=fr