Ontario advances to Scotties playoff round

Ontario champion Krista McCarville skipped her Thunder Bay team to a 10-3 tiebreaker thrashing of Manitoba’s Jill Thurston on Friday afternoon, reducing the field in the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts championship chase to four teams. McCarville and her team of Tara George, Ashley Miharija and Kari MacLean advance to the sudden-death Page Three-Four playoff on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET against two-time champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna. That winner will advance to the semi-final at 7 p.m. ET McCarville executed a spectacular last-rock runback, literally papering one of her own stones, and erasing an enemy counter to score three in the second end after a blank opener. The call was a gutsy one for McCarville and deflating for Thurston’s forces who never recovered. “We decided it was risk for reward, you miss, you only give up a steal of one but to make it meant a huge momentum shift,” said the Ontario skip. “We figured if we didn’t make it or just chipped it out and scored a deuce, it was still early. “We were really pumped after that. My team just played so well, we just never let them back into it.We never got down and just kept firing.” Thurston agreed with the assessment. “She made a great shot, they definitely played great, we were not so good, so . . . that’s what happens in curling,” said the petite Manitoba skip. “I can see her call. It was a low-risk shot. We were only counting one. You might as well go for it. But it was a killer for us. We had opportuities to put rocks in the right places after that but we didn’t do that and they were right on the money, they made everything.” Thurston was left with an open hit for a deuce in the third but McCarville finagled those points back in the fourth. She missed a twin-kill in the fifth after Thurston has executed a double but, with a near-free draw, Thurston pulled the string on her last rock and settled for a single. McCarville came back ferociously in the sixth and hammered another three-count on the board, stole two more in the seventh when Thurston inadvertently knocked her own counter out of the rings and the jig was up. “Step One is done but we have some more tough games starting tomorrow,” said McCarville. “We’re not satisfied here. We’ll be satisfied at the top. “We’ve been here and we know how tough the games are going to be. Emotionally and physically, it is tiring, but we know we can do it again. So we have to feed off that. We’re at that stage where we know that we’re good enough to be here and we have to continue believing in ourselves, that’s really key.” McCarville agreed she benefits from a partisan Ontario crowd. A total of 2,474 took in the contest. “The crowds help, for sure,” she said. “It’s kind of funny because some times you don’t make a great shot and they cheer anyway. You get a little laugh from that, but it’s great to have them out there.” On the prospect of playoff against 207 world champion Scott: “We’ve played them a lot . . . but this year I think we’ve beaten them more than they’ve beaten us and that’s a little scary because, you think, how many times can you beat a strong team like that? But if we can play like we have been we’ll give them a good battle.” Thurston bemoaned too many “half-shots” in the game. “You can get away with those in cashspiels, but not up here,” she said If you don’t make all your shots all the time here you’re going to lose and that’s what happened today. “I mean, I miss that draw for two in the fifth, you can’t do that! You can’t draw, you can’t skip. Kathy O’Rourke of Prince Edward Island tackles defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg in the Page One-Two playoff today at 7:30 p.m. The winner advances to Sunday’s championship final at 2:30 p.m. ET