Ontario provincial champion Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay roared into the lead at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Tuesday, winning her fifth and sixth matches while remaining the lone team with only one blemish on the record.
McCarville, who won 11 in a row for the Ontario title last month with third Tara George, second Ashley Miharija and lead Kari MacLean, broke up a first-place tie on Tuesday night with a 9-3 victory over Kathy O’Rourke of Prince Edward Island.
Earlier, McCarville executed a double-kill to score four against Shelley Nichols of St. John’s in the third end, then stole two in the fourth for a 6-1 lead and eventual 8-5 decision.
With four rounds remaining, McCarville has the champions of Manitoba, the Territories and Nova Scotia, and defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg remaining to play in the 12-team round robin preliminary.
The top four teams advance to playoffs on Friday and Saturday with the championship final set for 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
McCarville posted a second-end deuce after a blank opening end against the Island team featuring 21-year-old Erin Carmody on last rocks. Then Ontario stole one in the third, yielded a single in the fourth and countered with another single in fifth for a 4-1 lead after McCarville was inches short on a difficult
out-turn draw to a corner of the button for another point.
But Ontario stole two more in the sixth exchange and it was clear sailing.
“I think we’re going a long way to proving to people and the other teams here that we’re a really good team,” said McCarville afterward.
“They can see that we’ve really picked up our game from last year.
“I’m really picking up on the ice and I’m really feeling good and confident and I think that’s the key for my team to see me feeling this way. It really builds on their confidence as well.”
McCarville makes no bones of the fact that she and her team are on a mission.
“I’m dying to wear the maple leaf, no doubt about it,” she said.
“From the second game in Prince George (Olympic Pre-Trials), I had a little talk with Rick (coach Lang) and he gave me a pep talk and we’ve been cruising ever
“We’re operating at an advantage over a lot of these teams because of all the arena ice we’ve played on this year. I think there’s no question about that . . . I really believe it.”
O’Rourke’s unit fell back to 5-and-2, alongside the two-time champion Jones heading into today’s penultimate pair of matches.
“I think we’re just disappointed we didn’t have a better game,” said O’Rourke. “Erin just didn’t have the feel for it tonight. She’s been our little girl who pulled out a lot of games for us by putting the rock on the pin when we needed it. And that’s how we’ve been playing for most of the week and when it’s not there it doesn’t work for you very well.”
O’Rourke was full of praise for the opposing skip.
“Krista is phenomenal,” she said. “Every time we had anything going she’d come through a hole or make a double. She played just like I knew she was going to play and when you’re playing someone like that and you aren’t putting your rocks in exactly the right places you going to be in deep trouble.”
Snarled at 4-and-3 were former champion Kelly Scott of B.C., Jill Thurston of Manitoba and Eve Belisle of Quebec.
In other late-shift tilts Tuesday, Belisle hung tough with a 6-5 squeaker over Sharon Cormier (2-5) of the Territories but Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland, who needed a win to remain with the three-loss pack, blew a 6-2 lead at the half and eventually bowed 8-7 to New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly (3-4).
In one other game, Nancy McConnery of Nova Scotia toughened up and won her first game of the week, a stolen 7-6 duke over Shelley Nichols of Newfoundland/Labrador who miscued on her last rock of the match.
In today’s opening round at 9:30 a.m. ET, McCarville (Ontario) faces Thurston (Manitoba), Jones (Canada) plays Belisle (Quebec), Scott (B.C.) plays Saskatchewan (Holland) and Alberta (Sweeting) plays Newfoundland/Labrador (Nichols).