Seven teams remain in the playoff hunt
Seven teams remain in the playoff hunt after Thursday afternoon’s penultimate round-robin draw at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. And for Kelly Scott’s former world championship rink from British Columbia, the scenario couldn’t have been more clear — win or go home. The B.C. crew came through, knocking off first-place Prince Edward Island, 10-5, upping its record to 6-and-4, and staying alive for at least one more draw. Victory against Newfoundland on Thursday night at the Essar Centre would, at the very least, ensure the West Coast unit a Friday tiebreaker, and possibly propel Scott’s rink into the Page Three-Four playoff game on Saturday. “I think the scoreboard was indicative of how sharp we played,” said Scott, whose Kelowna Curling Club team includes Jeanna Schraeder, Sasha Carter and Jacquie Armstrong. “It was definitely nice to have a game like that heading into the final weekend. “We had to bring our ‘A’ game, and I think we did. We were placing those rocks where we wanted to, with both the drawing and the hitting. If we can finish tonight with a good solid performance, and get a ‘W,’ I think we’re looking in a real good position heading into the playoffs.” The weekend playoff picture at the Canadian women’s curling championship did not clear up any on Thursday afternoon. Jill Thurston’s crew from Manitoba (6-4) merely needed to knock off New Brunswick (5-6) to punch its own playoff ticket, and eliminate any five-loss teams from playoff contention, but was instead trumped 9-6 by Andrea Kelly’s Fredericton outfit. That means Manitoba (6-4), B.C. (6-4), Saskatchewan (5-5) and Quebec (5-5) are all still alive for the fourth and final playoff berth, heading into Thursday night’s final round-robin action. The evening draw, slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, will pit B.C. against Shelley Nichols’ Newfoundlanders (4-6), Manitoba again Quebec, and Saskatchewan against Alberta (4-6). Jennifer Jones’ Team Canada, the two-time defending Scotties champions, overwhelmed last-place Nova Scotia (1-10) on Thursday afternoon by an 11-4 count. That means Canada (7-3) and Ontario (7-3) will duke it out Thursday night for the right to meet P.E.I. (8-3) in the Page One-Two playoff game on Friday night. Krista McCarville’s Ontario hosts, based in Thunder Bay, still have a shot at finishing first overall, since they defeated the Islanders in round-robin play. Canada can finish no better than second, since Kathy O’Rourke’s P.E.I. crew topped Jones’ Winnipeg-based rink in the round robin. As for Thurston, the Winnipeg skip was visibly upset at fumbling away a shot at securing a final-four berth. “We win that game, we’re in outright, and we don’t have to play any tiebreakers, which I’m assuming we’re going to have to do now,” said Thurston, whose Deer Lodge Curing Club outfit includes Kristen Phillips, Leslie Wilson and Raunora Westcott. “We have to play better than that. We were terrible. We didn’t play well enough to win, and of course we were playing a team that was out, so they’re loose and they don’t care. And she (Kelly) made everything . . . she made absolutely everything,” added Thurston. “I made pretty close to everything, but it wasn’t good enough. “We’re going to have to go out and try to avoid (a four-way tie for fourth overall) like the plague,” said Thurston. “From the opening end on (Thursday afternoon), I was not happy. We knew (New Brunswick) was going to make everything. They were playing loose, with nothing to lose. We were just . . . flat.” Jones, meanwhile, had an open draw for five points in the fourth on her way to that lopsided win over the Bluenosers. Fans might have been circling Thursday night’s Ontario-Canada showdown on their event calendars since last weekend, but Jones admitted she hadn’t taken notice of the timing. “We’ll have to be sharp playing Ontario tonight,” said Jones, whose St. Vital Curling Club team includes Cathy Overton-Clapham, Jill Officer and Dawn Askin. “I’m sure there’s going to be a big crowd cheering for them, so it should be a lot of fun. “We never really looked too far in advance. Obviously Ontario is a good team, and we expected them to be in the hunt,” added Jones, “but you just take it one game at a time, and to be honest, I didn’t even know we played them last until today. “This was a big win for us. We want to come out and play well tonight and avoid the tiebreakers. That’s the goal at the beginning of the week.” O’Rourke’s P.E.I. crew, which includes Tricia Affleck, Geri-Lynn Ramsay and last-rock tosser Erin Carmody, missed a chance to wrap up first place overall on their own terms against B.C., but O’Rourke wasn’t too upset about it. “I think we were emotionally a little tired out there. We just really didn’t have the gas,” said O’Rourke. “I think the last three games have been really scrappy, hard-fought ones. It’s almost like you know you’re in that (Page) One-Two game, and you’re out there trying to play for hammer, but it’s tough going when you’re a little bit tired.” In Thursday afternoon’s other game, Alberta halted a five-game losing streak with a 9-7 win over the Territories (4-7) that saw Valerie Sweeting’s Wild Rose crew score a deuce in the 11th end.