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Sweeting sweeps into Home Hardware Canada Cup final

Revenge was sweet for Val Sweeting Saturday afternoon.

The Edmonton skip responded from being dispatched to a tiebreaker by Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones on Friday to book a spot in Sunday’s women’s final at the 2015 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Sweeting defeated Jones 5-3 in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal before a pro-Sweeting crowd at Revolution Place. Team Sweeting will play Rachel Homan’s Ottawa-based team, which ran up a 5-1 record to finish first in the round-robin, in Sunday’s women’s final (11 a.m. MT).

“They’re (Homan’s team) playing well, but I thought we had really great day today so regardless of how well their team is playing we have to make our shots. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and make our shots the best we can and see where it falls,” said Sweeting.

She, third Lori Olson-Johns, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachelle Brown will be seeking their second straight Home Hardware Canada Cup title, having won the 2014 version in Camrose, Alta.

Sweeting took a slightly circuitous route to the semifinal. Heading into Friday’s final draw she was sitting pretty in second place with a 4-1 record. But Jones with third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen snatched the semifinal spot away from her by blitzing Sweeting 9-2.

That put her in a second-place tie with Jones and Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont., but Jones got the nod because they had the best cumulative pre-game draw to the button for the first-end hammer during the round-robin. Sweeting then took care of business by beating Middaugh 7-3 in a tiebreaker Saturday morning to determine who would meet Jones.

“(Friday) night’s game looked really bad on the scoreboard and stat wise but I didn’t feel like we were that off, I just think we got caught up in the paths,” said Sweeting. “There were a couple where it was good out of my hand clean, but it just didn’t do what we thought it would. Knowing we were throwing the right weight at the broom it helped that it just wasn’t a completely flat game. We just kind of brushed it off and forgot about it.”

In the semifinal, Sweeting just had to make a draw to the eight-foot in the 10th end to win.

“They played great and we just couldn’t get anything going,” said Jones. “We just kind of gave them an out every end and they made it. They played great and you can’t give a team outs and that’s what we did. At the end of the day we’re happy with our event and hopefully we’ll keep that going to the end of the year.”

Jones, the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women’s champion, will be back in Grande Prairie in late February for the 2016 Scotties as Team Canada.

“We’re thrilled to be coming back. Hopefully the ice will be as good as it was this week because it was fantastic,” said Jones.

Team Epping third Mat Camm watches his shot as Team Simmons third John Morris looks on during men's tiebreaker action on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Team Epping third Mat Camm watches his shot as Team Simmons third John Morris looks on during men’s tiebreaker action on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Homan and Sweeting, meanwhile, will battle for the top prize of $14,000, in addition to direct-entry berths to the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings in Ottawa — the event that will decided Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea — and trip to Las Vegas to be part of Team North America for the 2016 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming Jan. 14-17.

The men’s semifinal tonight (6:30) will feature Calgary’s Kevin Koe crew against John Epping of Toronto. Epping got there with a 7-5 win over another Calgary skip Pat Simmons, went for the win on his final shot in the 10th end trailing 6-5 but just missed on a skinny double takeout.

“It was a really, really well-played game, it was just fun to be out there,” said Epping, whose team consists of third Mat Camm, second Pat Janssen and lead Tim March and will be looking to keep the momentum going tonight.

“We have to continue to do what we’ve been doing. We’re communicating well and we’re really throwing the rock well right now. If we do that we’ll give ourselves a chance if we can hang in there physically and mentally.

To reach the final, however, Epping will need to win five consecutive games, three in his final round-robin encounters, the tiebreaker and tonight’s semifinal — in the space of about 32 hours.

“It’s pretty wild when you think about it because there’s a spot in the Trials and a trip to Vegas. It’s going to be a crazy grind, and I’m sure after whatever game we win or lose to be done it will be pretty crazy when we look back on it,” said Epping.

Deuces were wild in the first half of the game. Each skip used the hammer to score two twice – Epping in the first and third ends, Simmons in the second and fifth – while the fourth end was blanked for a 4-4 tie.

Simmons made a super double with his final rock in the seventh to end the string of deuces forcing Epping to hit and stick for a single.
In the eighth, 12 rocks straddled the centre line, nine in the house, when Simmons went to launch his last shot but it sailed through and he had to settle for a single to make it 5-5. Epping then had to break up a mess around the button just to score one with his final shot in the ninth.

The Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with men’s semifinal today at 6:30 p.m., the women’s final Sunday at 11 a.m., and men’s final at 5 p.m. (all times MST).

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

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