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Team Sweeting in comfy position at Home Hardware Canada Cup

Val Sweeting is more than keeping up to the Joneses and isn’t too far behind the Homans as well.

Sweeting’s team from Edmonton improved to 3-1 at the Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, by downing Kristy McDonald of Winnipeg 8-3 in the sixth draw Thursday evening.

Her only loss came in the first draw against Rachel Homan, whose Ottawa-based team (4-0) remains alone atop the women’s standings heading into the final day of round-robin play for the women on Friday.

“We feel pretty comfortable out there and the team’s playing really well and setting up really good ends,” said Sweeting, the defending Home Hardware Canada Cup champion. “Personally I struggled with draw weight and trusting how keen [the ice] was. We haven’t played on ice that keen all year and I just wasn’t trusting it and now I am and it’s been working well.”

Sweeting will be looking to nail down one of three available playoff spots early Friday when she takes on Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton.

“Every game’s important in a short round-robin so we definitely want to come out strong in the morning and then also come out big in the evening (against Jennifer Jones),” said Sweeting, who is supported by third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown.

Homan has already clinched a tiebreaker. Her squad dismantled Rocque 9-2 earlier in the day easily extending their win streak to 24 games. They have not lost since Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 10).

Meanwhile, defending Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg is 2-2 after downing Rocque 8-5 Thursday evening. She’s joined in a tie for third with Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., who lost two games Thursday. Previously winless Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., handed Middaugh a 4-3 defeat Thursday evening. Fleury, Rocque and Middaugh are all 1-3.

The top of the men’s standings is nowhere near as clear cut as the women’s. Calgary’s Kevin Koe, 2014 Olympic champion Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and two-time defending Tim Hortons Brier champ Pat Simmons of Calgary are all 3-1.

Simmons downed 2006 Olympic champion Brad Gushue of St. John’s 6-4 to move into the three-way, top-spot tie.

“I’ve made a career of grinding out wins,” said Simmons, who nipped Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers 5-4 earlier in the day by scoring two in the 10th end. “There’s been far more of those that have come that way versus those that have come easy that’s for sure. The veteran side of us, the experience, comes through in those situations. Sometimes a few wins like that can really get things rolling.

Brad Gushue calls instructions to his sweepers as Nolan Thiessen looks over his shoulder. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Brad Gushue calls instructions to his sweepers as Nolan Thiessen looks over his shoulder. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“We know well enough that if you can stay patient and fight you might bide your time and get something good at the end.”

Jacobs, third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harden and lead Ryan Harnden got to 3-1 by downing Toronto’s John Epping 7-3 in eight ends in Draw 6.

Although the team doesn’t have a title in five events so far this season, they still sit fifth on the money list with $43,900. But that hasn’t stopped pundits from wondering why the team is struggling.

“It’s been written but being part of the team I really don’t think we have struggled. As far as records go and round-robins we’ve played very well. It’s just we’re struggling in playoffs,” said Fry.

“We’re a work in progress right now. We know what we did in 2014 isn’t going to be good enough come 2017 (for the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials). There’s new members to the family with both E.J. and Brad having children, and new jobs and such. It’s building lives and at the same time build a new Jacobs 2.0, if you want to say.

“You just can’t expect it to happen overnight and get the same results have we have the past two years. Things are starting to look up for us and some of the things we’re doing are starting to pay off for us.”

Epping, Mike McEwen of Winnipeg are 2-2 while Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock, Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg and Gushue are 1-3.

The winners will receive a berth in the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings and will also be one of the teams representing North America at the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming, in Las Vegas Jan. 14-17.

The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws Friday at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 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