Prince Edward Island takes first place

Will this be the pattern of the future when it comes to forming curling teams? The one where the veteran skip plays second and the young hotshots toss the last four bricks? Like it worked for Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols with Russ Howard calling traffic at the Torino Olympics, so it is working for Prince Edward Island at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Essar Centre. The Islanders, with 45-year-old Kathy O’Rourke skipping and tossing second rocks, 39-year-old Tricia Affleck playing lead and 21-year-olds Erin Carmody and Geri-Lynn Ramsay handling fourth and third stones respectively, climbed to the top of the Scotties heap on Wednesday night with an unexpected 9-5 victory over defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg. It left the Islanders at 7-and-2 and assured of some sort of playoff match subsequent to the completion of the round-robin preliminary draw today. One game behind the leader heading into today’s last two rounds, Jones, Ontario champion Krista McCarville and Manitoba champion Jill Thurston had 6-and-3 records. Another game back were Amber Holland of Saskatchewan and two-time Scotties champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna at 5-and-4. Jones controlled Wednesday’s pivotal match until Ramsay executed a great hit-and-roll in the ninth end that set up a stolen go-ahead deuce for the Islanders. O’Rourke and Co., then played an immaculate last end and wound up stealing a meaningless pair when Jones was forced to attempt a triple takeout with her last stone but failed. “Sure, I may be a little surprised that we’re leading,” said O’Rourke, “but I always knew this team could come out here and be competitive. “We feel pretty terrific. We had a team meeting this morning after last night’s loss. We analyzed the situation and decided, to simply go out and shoot one rock at a time and not worry about anything else. When you do that it’s amazing what happens. “We’re trying not to look at results, we’re just trying to look at making shots.” The Islanders defeated Eve Belisle (4-and-5) of Quebec 7-3 in san afternoon tussle. Jones was philosophical about her team’s third loss. The last two years, she has won the title while absorbing four defeats in each. “Obviously, they did play very well and we just had the bad finish to the game and that’s not characteristic of our team at all,” she said. “Their whole team’s playing well. They’re in first place for a reason. They’ve only got two losses and they’re obviously making the right shots when they have to. They did and we didn’t today.” She was more than disconcerted about losing control in the late going. “It was a bad ninth end. I wish we could play it over again but we can’t so we’ll have to come out with better efforts tomorrow,” Jones said. “I know we’re still in it. I just don’t like to lose games like that. We were up playing eight and didn’t play well at the end of the game and we don’t like to do that.” In other late games, Thurston won her third in a row and staunchly remaining in contention with an 8-6 win over Sharon Cormier’s Territories outfit (3-and-6) while Scott led a charmed life in stealing the tying point in the 10th end and the 8-7 winner in an extra end against Nova Scotia’s Nancy McConnery (1-and-8). Elsewhere, New Brunswick’s Andrea Kelly (4-and-5) of Fredericton defeated Alberta’s Valerie Sweeting (3-and-6) of Edmonton 9-3.