The ranks of the unblemished were reduced to just two teams

The ranks of the unblemished were reduce to just two teams at the 2010 Scotties Tournament Of Hearts on Sunday afternoon  but the leaders were no surprise. Defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg won her third straight game, dumping Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland 7-3 on the fourth draw while home-province favourite Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay scored a 10th-end deuce to subdue the hot young Alberta team skipped by Valerie Sweeting by a narrow 7-6 score. McCarville will have a chance to pull even with the champs at 3-and-0 tonight when she faces Eve Belisle (1-1) of Montreal. Jones and her Team Canada crew have the night draw off. “That was our best game to date,” said Jones, who was beaten in the first round of the Olympic Trials at Edmonton by Holland. “It’s great to get off to a good start but we’ve done this a lot of ways. I think we did this last year and then had to battle through atiebreaker so you never can be certain after the first few games.” Holland admitted an 0-2 start for her team wasn’t in the original game plan. “But what are you going to do, you can’t go back?” she said. “We just have to ramp it up and get rolling.” McCarville and Sweeting waged a titanic battle of last rocks with the turning point probably arriving in the seventh end with Alberta angling to break up a tie match and steal a deuce with a pair jammed in the four-foot. With last rock, McCarville tossed an in-turn draw to a corner of the button from outside ice and watched the stone turn in to score at exactly the right moment. Sweeting then scored back-to-back singles to take the lead in the ninth but she couldn’t avoid giving up the deciding deuce when McCarville issued her last-rock open hit. “The seventh was the turning point, we didn’t want to give up that steal,” said McCarville. “I needed about one-quarter or more of the button and it warped in there perfectly. “I had my draw weight that game and I felt really good so I just threw it and let the sweepers guide it in there and the line was perfect.” The 22-year-old Alberta skip agreed the seventh end, had it gone the other way, probably would have changed the result. “That was a clutch draw for her,” said Sweeting. “It would have been nice to steal there. The good thing was they only counted one and you always hope to limit the opposition to that when they have last rock. “They were making a lot of greats shots, especially in that last end, and there wasn’t much we could do about it. But we played well and that’s a good sign for us.” Alberta remained at 2-and-1 alongside British Columbia, Manitoba and P.E.I. B.C. skip Kelly Scott covered part of the button with a last-rock cold draw to defeat Quebec’s Belisle 6-4  while Manitoba’s Jill Thurston ran away from Shelley Nichols of Newfoundland/Labrador 11-6 with a killer four-count in the seventh end the major blow. “I thought I needed just a touch extra on that last draw and it worked out,” said Scott whose final stone ground to a halt in winning territory. Thurston admitted the playing surface began to fudge in the late ends. “When you have ice like that it’s definitely an advantage to get a lead as soon as possible.” Manitoba led by a point when  Thurston executed a precise takeout for the four-ender. Said Nichols: “My draw weight just wasn’t there. I’d make one, miss one, make one, miss one. You aren’t helping anybody when you’re going like that.” The Islander had the afternoon break after suffering their first loss of the piece — a 13-2 whaling from Alberta — on the morning shift. In other games in Draw Five today at 7:30 p.m. ET, New Brunswick goes against Nova Scotia, P.E.I. tackles the Territories and Saskatchewan bounces right back to face Newfoundland/Labrador.