Jones’ defending champs get back on track
Selective memory is a wonderful thing, especially if you’re coming off a day like Jennifer Jones’ rink had Monday. Fresh off lopsided losses to the Territories and Newfoundland, Jones’ two-time defending champions got back on track Tuesday morning at the Scott Tournament of Hearts, knocking off Valerie Sweeting’s Alberta crew 9-7 at the Essar Centre. “It felt better. There were still a few uncharacteristic misses out there, so hopefully we’ll improve, but a win is better than a loss,” said Jones, whose Team Canada crew from Winnipeg’s St. Vital Curling Club includes Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin. “I thought we played better than yesterday as a team,” added Jones, “and we’re going to have to be sharp again to play a tough team (in Kelly Scott’s British Columbia representatives) this afternoon.” Victory improves Team Canada’s record to 4-2, and drops Alberta to 3-3 after the ninth draw. Prince Edward Island (5-1) continues its improbable reign atop standings, thanks to Tuesday morning’s 7-4 win over Nova Scotia (0-6). In other results, Scott’s B.C. outfit upped its mark to 4-2, thanks to a 7-5 victory over Manitoba (3-3). New Brunswick (2-4) won its second game of the round-robin tournament, topping the Territories (2-4) by a 7-5 count. In the Canada-versus-Alberta showdown, Jones and Co. landed body blows by stealing two in each of the third and fourth ends for a 5-2 lead, but the real knockout punch was Canada’s three-ender in the seventh, which came just after Alberta had scored two to draw even at 5-5. Sweeting misplayed a shot with her final brick of the seventh, which gave Jones a possible angle-raise takeout for four. Jones’ shooter didn’t stay in the rings, but she removed the Alberta stone to score those pivotal three points. “It definitely sucked that they got three that end,” said Sweeting, whose team from Edmonton’s Saville Sports Centre includes Megan Einarson, Whitney More and Lindsay Makichuk. “But I just don’t think that I . . . I didn’t capitalize when we had opportunities, and I think that was the biggest thing. “There were a few shots along the way where we could have totally changed the game,” added Sweeting. “The second steal of two was a little unfortunate. I thought I threw good weight, in the exact same spot as my first one, but it curled a lot more and went a lot further. It happens.” With the score 8-7 in the 10th end, and Jones holding the hammer, Sweeting made a last-ditch attempt at a double-raised hit to knock her own stone into the four-foot and become shot stone, but the attempt ended up being about an inch light. “We hung in there (after falling behind 8-5). The girls played well. We set up the ends a little bit better in the second half,” said Sweeting. “And (on that final shot), yeah, I was moving two rocks, but I still felt like I threw enough weight. It was close, but . . .” The Islanders, meanwhile, are moving closer to playoff territory with five wins under their belt. But skip Kathy O’Rourke says her team isn’t getting ahead of itself. “That game felt pretty good. Everyone out here is tough, so you just hope you come out and fire them really nice,” said O’Rourke, who fires second stones in a rink that includes third Geri-Lynn Ramsay, final-stone slinger Erin Carmody and lead Tricia Affleck. “The girls were doing that; I struggled a little bit, but with a back end like I have, I don’t have to worry about that too much, it seems. “What we try to think of, really, is one game at a time,” added O’Rourke. “And not even that far ahead, really. Just one shot at a time. That’s been kind of our motto since we started in our provincials back in P.E.I.” Scott, the 2007 world champion, knocked off former junior teammate Jill Thurston in a game that came down to the Manitoba skip’s final stone of the 10th end. Looking at two B.C. rocks in the 12-foot and holding hammer, Thurston elected to make a double takeout, rather than a draw, to score a point and push the game to an extra end. But her shooter rolled out of the rings, giving the British Columbians a steal of one and the 7-5 victory. “A wide-open hit, right in the 12-foot? That’s low-hanging fruit. That’s pretty easy to do,” said Thurston, whose Winnipeg-based Deer Lodge Curling Club outfit includes Kristen Phillips, Leslie Wilson and Raunora Westcott. “But whatever. It’s fine. “It’s frustrating to not make your last shot and go to an extra, but who knows what happens in the extra, right? We don’t have the hammer. I think we played really, really well, and not be frustrated. I think we have to take away what we did right in that game, and I think we threw a lot of quality shots.” Neither team scored more than two points in an end during a real cat-and-mouse affair. “Back and forth, back and forth the whole way,” said Scott, whose Kelowna Curling Club team consists of Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter and Jacquie Armstrong. “Two strong teams, and it was a good battle, position by position,” she added. “Definitely, the scoreboard showed it, right down to the wire in the 10th end, there.” Tuesday’s 10th draw, which begins at 3 p.m. ET, will see host Ontario (4-1) take on Newfoundland (2-3), Canada battle B.C., Saskatchewan (2-3) take on Quebec (3-2), and Manitoba face Alberta.