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Playoff pairings set at 2016 Scotties

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — And then there four.

A last-minute comeback from Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson, combined with an emphatic win by defending champ Jennifer Jones and Team Canada, on Friday morning at Revolution Place ensured that there would be no tiebreakers at the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The playoff pairings are now in place, and just five games remain to be played to decide the medallists — most notably, the gold-medallist who will represent Canada at the 2016 Ford World Women’s Championship, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, beginning March 19 in Swift Current, Sask.

The playoff games stack up like this. Today at 6:30 p.m. (all times Mountain), top-seeded Alberta’s Chelsea Carey (Calgary) will play No. 2 Team Canada in the Page playoff 1-2 game after both teams finished with 9-2 record (Alberta gets the top-seed based on its 12-5 round-robin win over Canada in Draw 1 last Saturday afternoon). The winner will advance to Sunday’s 6:30 p.m. gold-medal game, while the loser will drop to Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.

Saturday at 1:30 p.m., No. 3 Manitoba (East St. Paul) plays No. 4 Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay) after both teams finished at 7-4 (Manitoba beat Northern Ontario 9-6 in round-robin play). The winner moves to the semifinal against the Page 1-2 loser. The loser will play for bronze Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against the loser of the semifinal.

“We just happy to be in that one-two game,” said Jones, after her team’s 11-4 win over B.C.’s Karla Thompson (2-9; Kamloops). “The goal all week was to get into the playoffs, and we’ve accomplished that. Now we can focus on just making shots and having fun. We’re just very excited to be where we’re at. We’re feeling good about the way we’re throwing, and we’re learning more and more about the ice, so I think we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”

Carey has played Jones numerous times in the past, dating back to when Carey curled out of Winnipeg (she moved to Alberta following the 2013-14 season), and while Jones holds a 15-7 career advantage in head-to-head games between the two skips, Carey has won their past two encounters, including their round-robin game here.

“It seems like it was so long ago, but they’re a really great team and we know it’s going to be a fun game to play,” said Jones of Team Alberta, which had a bye on Friday morning. “They’re playing really well, and I think we’re getting close, too. I’m really looking forward to it; I think it’s going to be a fun game to watch for the fans.”

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones calls instructions to sweepers during win over B.C. on Friday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones calls instructions to sweepers during win over B.C. on Friday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Einarson’s Manitoba team trailed the whole game against New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robichaud (2-9; Moncton), but rallied in spectacular fashion with a last-rock double-takeout to score three in the 10th end for a 7-6 triumph to avoid a raft of tiebreakers.

“I just got goosebumps everywhere,” said Einarson. “My girls stayed with me. I struggled through the first half, struggled with my rocks but then started making some shots. I’m so proud of my team. They made a lot of wonderful shots this week and made things quite easy for me.”

New Brunswick and B.C. finished with 2-9 records, but B.C.’s round-robin win on Thursday between the two teams means New Brunswick finishes in 12th and last position and will be in the 2017 Scotties pre-qualifying round along with the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Northern Ontario had a chance to finish third at 8-3, and have last-rock advantage and rock selection for the Page 3-4 game, but bowed 6-4 to Ontario’s Jenn Hanna (6-5; Ottawa).

In the other round-robin game Friday morning, Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche (5-6; St-Romuald) knocked off P.E.I.’s Suzanne Birt (4-7; Charlottetown) 7-2.

Alberta, Nova Scotia’s Jill Brothers (6-5; Halifax), Saskatchewan’s Jolene Campbell (6-5; Regina) and Newfoundland/Labrador’s Stacie Curtis (3-8; St. John’s) had the byes on Friday morning.

For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/tickets/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/draw-schedule/

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/?lang=fr