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Jones clinches semifinal berth at Home Hardware Canada Cup

What a difference 48 hours makes.

It was only two nights previous the situation for Jennifer Jones’s team from Winnipeg didn’t look good. They’d lost their opening two games on Wednesday at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing. But by Friday evening she was all smiles.

After that opening day, Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went on to win four consecutive games to finish second in the round-robin and advance to the semifinal Saturday (1:30 p.m.). Jones completed her turnaround by downing Val Sweeting of Edmonton 9-3 in Friday’s evening draw.

“Yeah, we’re pretty happy with that,” Jones said with a big laugh. “We’re thrilled where we’re at. We always want to be playing on the weekend which is what we’re doing.”

Although Jones finished tied at 4-2 with Sweeting and Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., who upset previously unbeaten Rachel Homan of Ottawa 6-4 in the final round-robin draw, Jones got the nod because her team had the best cumulative distance in the pre-game, last-shot draws to the button of the three.

“We’re pretty happy we rattled off a few wins in a row when we needed to and we’re playing well heading into the playoffs and we’re looking forward to [Saturday],” said Jones.

“We’ve been playing like that the last few games, playing well and making some big shots when we need to, but it’s a new day tomorrow and we know we’re going to play a tough team and we’re going to have to play our very best to have a chance to win.”

Sweeting and Middaugh will play a tie breaker Saturday (8:30 a.m.) to determine who plays Jones,

“We’ve just got to shake [Friday evening’s loss] off,” said Sweeting.

Just to get into the tiebreaker Middaugh had to end Homan’s 26-game win streak.

“It felt great. I thought we curled really well, as did Rachel’s team and I thought our game plan worked out well. We wanted to play fairly conservative but we knew we had to put a bit of pressure on them too because they’re not going to miss open hits,” said Middaugh, who feels the win puts her team in a good state of mind heading into the tiebreaker.

“We’re just coming off a win and we’re playing Val Sweeting who’s just coming off a loss. We’re happy to be in it, but we still want to make the semifinals. We won the game and we’re happy to live to play again.”

Homan (6-1) had already claimed first place and a bye into Sunday’s final (11 a.m.), earlier Friday when she defeated Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., 7-5. The loss also ended a 26-game win streak for Homan.

Also in the final draw of the women’s round-robin, Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque (2-4) defeated Sudbury’s Tracy Fleury (1-5).

On the men’s side, three teams are tied for top spot heading into the final draw of round-robin play at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

Mike McEwen of Winnipeg joined Calgary skips Kevin Koe and Pat Simmons in the first-place position at 4-2 by defeating Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., 8-6 in Draw 9 Friday evening.

“We had an amazing start to that game, we were all over them and then that changed in the middle, it reversed,” said McEwen, who has B.J. Neufeld at third, Adam Wozniak at second and Denni Neufeld playing lead.

“Brad made some amazing draws and there were times I didn’t have much, I threw away one because I didn’t have anything. But we got it together the last couple of ends. We played a really good eight, nine and ten, and that was just enough to win. Just enough.”

John Epping skipped his team to a crucial win Friday night to keep playoff hopes alive. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

John Epping skipped his team to a crucial win Friday night to keep playoff hopes alive. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Right behind the trio of Koe, Simmons and McEwen at 3-3 are Jacobs and Toronto’s John Epping, who defeated Brad Gushue (2-4) of St. John’s, Nfld., 8-6 in another evening matchup.

“This is a big, big event for these guys, and to come out and play as well as they have so far is really big, and no matter what happens tomorrow it’s going to boost us and give us confidence moving forward,” said Epping, who plays with third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March.

Koe and Simmons will meet each other on Saturday morning’s final draw (8:30) guaranteeing at least one team to finish 5-2. McEwen will play Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock (2-4) while Epping will tangle with Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers (2-4).

The first-place finisher will receive a bye into Sunday’s final (5 p.m.). The second- and third-place teams will play in a semifinal matchup Saturday (6:30 p.m.). If a tiebreaker is necessary it will go at 1:30 p.m.

The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws Saturday (8:30 a.m., 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.).

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