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Homan in the hunt at Home Hardware Canada Cup

Following a derailment the night before the defending champs got back on track Thursday.

Rachel Homan’s Ottawa team took an early lead before eventually edging Kelsey Rocque of Edmonton 8-7 Thursday afternoon. It was the Homan squad’s second win of the day and gave it a 3-1 round-robin record at the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Meridian Manufacturing.

The triumph came on the heels of a 6-4 win over Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., in the morning draw. And that win came on the heels of being dropped 8-5 Wednesday evening by Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg.

“It was important for us to get energized for this morning. Two wins today was big for us,” said Homan.

So what does an elite team like Homan’s – which includes third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle and new coach Adam Kingsbury – do after a late-night upset loss with two games on the schedule starting the next morning?

“We just egg the person who has the worst percentage,” said Homan in jest. “Honestly, we just went right to bed we were so tired.”

Against the 22-year-old Rocque, the youngest competitor at this event, Homan took control early getting two in the first, stealing another point in the second and getting three in the fourth for a 6-2 lead.

Homan will play Edmonton’s Val Sweeting on Friday and then finish against Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg, whose team is the only undefeated one on the women’s side at 3-0 heading into Thursday’s final draw.

“We’re improving every game so that’s good. Just keep improving and trying to read the ice the best, said Homan.

The team has been a dominant one in women’s curling the last couple of years, but that hasn’t stopped them from looking to improve.

“We’re trying new things and working on a lot of different things on the ice and off the ice. It’s a fun building year,” said Homan, who admitted that experimentation may mean some hiccups along the way.

“You’re not going to improve if you don’t try new things and change the way you do things. There’s going to be some losses along the way, and that’s OK but we’re looking for our end goal,” said Homan.

“Everyone’s going to be improving, everyone’s going to be changing and trying to get better so we can’t just stay the same, we’ve got to keep trying to improve and get better.”

Edmonton's Val Sweeting celebrates her win on Thursday at the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Edmonton’s Val Sweeting celebrates her win on Thursday at the 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Einarson (2-1) had a shot at hanging with Jones in the ranks of the undefeated with a 7-4 lead after seven ends. But Fleury managed a pair in eighth and a steal in the ninth for a 7-7 tie. Victory was still in her hands on the final shot; a draw to the four-foot would have meant a win, but it slid too far. Einarson will play Jones tonight.

In other women’s action, Sweeting (1-2) downed Calgary’s Chelsea Carey (1-3) 9-4.

On the men’s side, Brad Gushue’s team from St. John’s, Nfld., is the only undefeated team after stealing a 7-6 win over Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock. Both were 2-0 heading into the game.

Like Einarson, Laycock had a shot for the win. He needed a hit and stick to secure the victory but he rolled too far as Mark Nichols, who is skipping the team in Gushue’s absence due to injury, frantically swept it through the rings.

After three relatively clean ends, Laycock was afforded the opportunity for an open draw to the four-foot for three when Nichols’ last shot came up light and over-curled.

But Nichols evened the score with a delicate draw to the edge of the button around a mess in the front of the house to score two.

While facing three Laycock counters, Nichols made a sweet in-off to get to the button to create a 7-7 tie heading to the 10th end.

The other men’s game saw Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg pull out a 7-6 win over defending Home Hardware Canada Cup champion Kevin Koe of Calgary. Carruthers improved to 2-1 while Koe fell to 1-3.

The 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with a draw today at 6:30 p.m. (all times CST) with three more on Friday, at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 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 2016 Home Hardware Canada Cup, go to www.curling.ca/2016canadacup/tickets/

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

About Grant Granger