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Alberta takes a step closer to Scotties gold

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. – A smokin’ hot Chelsea Carey and her Alberta teammates rolled past Jennifer Jones and Team Canada 7-5 in the Page 1-2 playoff game Friday evening to earn a spot in Sunday’s gold-medal final of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Canada will play in Saturday’s semifinal against the winner of the Page 3-4 game Saturday afternoon between Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay) and Kerri Einarson of Manitoba (East St. Paul).

“That may be the most fun I’ve ever had curling,” said Carey. “I felt really calm (before the game), which is always the part that’s a little scary.”

Carey was shooting 98 per cent through eight ends and her only real miss of the night came in the ninth when she got only one on a relatively easy double-takeout attempt. She finished the evening scored at 96 per cent.

“Chelsea was a phenomenal player tonight,” said Alberta third Amy Nixon, who, as an extension of the Alberta brilliance, was almost as hot at 94 per cent. “She really got us out of trouble in the eighth end when we didn’t have our perfect end.”

Carey, Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters, alternate Susan O’Conner and coach Charley Thomas were cruising with a 5-2 lead until the eighth when Canada looked poised to steal at least one, maybe two. But Carey executed a raise double takeout to score a pair for Alberta.

“That was a big one for sure,” said Carey. “Big assist to Laine, she swept that the whole way, right out of my hands. It was a good solid team performance.”

Both teams showed in the first end that they came to play. Nixon made two superb shots – a raise double followed by a hit-and-stick through a very narrow port. Carey and Jones exchanged perfect freeze draws and after Jones threw up a guard Carey came around cover and drew the back of the button to get her deuce.

Alberta skip Chelsea Carey, with Team Canada's Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Jill Officer looking over her shoulder, watches her shot on Friday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Alberta skip Chelsea Carey, with Team Canada’s Dawn McEwen, Jill Officer and Jill Officer looking over her shoulder, watches her shot on Friday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

“The girls were great with sweeping everything perfectly,” said Carey. “Like the draw for two in the first end — they swept it perfectly, big assist for them.”

Carey made a delicate hit and roll behind cover in two, forcing Jones to draw for one.

There wasn’t another opportunity for either team until the fifth end when a pick on the first stone of Team Canada third Kaitlyn Lawes opened the door for Alberta.

“I think we were going to be forcing them that end and it turned into a deuce and they got to an early lead because of it,” said Lawes. “It wasn’t necessarily the game, but it was a big moment in it.”

Carey jumped, hitting a last-rock angle raise takeout for two and a 4-1 margin at the break.

Alberta rarely gave Jones and her team a chance to get anything going in the final five ends. Each time it appeared Canada might have a shot at a multiple end, Nixon or Carey made the shots to eliminate those threats.

Team Canada would take advantage of the Carey miss in the ninth to score three, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Meanwhile Team Canada made a clean sweep of the Scotties first all-star team announced Friday. The first team has Jones at skip, Lawes at third, Jill Officer at second and Dawn McEwen at lead.

The second team is made up of Carey at skip, Saskatchewan third Ashley Howard, Manitoba second Liz Fyfe and Northern Ontario lead Sarah Potts — all daughters of Brier champs (Dan Carey, Russ Howard, Vic Peters and Rick Lang).

The Page 3-4 game will be played Saturday at 1:30 p.m. (all times Mountain), with the semifinal to follow at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday the bronze-medal game is at 1:30 p.m. and the gold-medal final at 6:30 p.m.

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/

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

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.