Defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg stuck to the coat-tails of the leaders at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts late Monday afternoon, fashioning a 9-3 victory over Andrea Kelly of New Brunswick that was keyed by three points in the first two ends.
Jones, now 3-1, trails unbeaten co-leaders Amber Holland of Saskatchewan and Rachel Homan of Ontario by one game. The latter pair each boast 4-0 logs.
“I think we’re a little more consistent,” said Jones, who is looking for her fourth straight Scotties title which would tie her with recordholder Colleen Jones of Halifax.
“The ice was better today. I think (icemaker) B.J. (Gagnon) got it right today. It’s hot and humid outside so he had to cool down the building. You just want it to be as good as a surface as it can be under the conditions.”
Jones goes against home-province favourite Suzanne Birt later today (7:30 p.m.) in a match that is generally considered responsible for a sellout in the 3,200-seat Civic Centre.
Birt is 1-3 following a morning loss to Ontario.
In other matches, Ottawa’s Homan plays Kelly Scott of Kelowna, Holland plays Marie-France Larouche of Quebec and Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink, currently riding a two-game losing streak, faces Stacie Devereaux of Newfoundland.
In other afternoon games, Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey moved to 3-2 with an immense 12-6 hammering of B.C.’s Scott (2-2), while Larouche (2-2) dropped Manitoba’s Cathy Overton-Clapham down the standings to 1-4 with a 7-6 defeat and Yellowknife’s Kerry Galusha got untracked to post her initial win after four losses, defeating Devereaux 7-6.
“We’re starting to execute back-to-back shots and that’s more like us,” said the Nova Scotia skip.
“We have two players new to the Scotties and, for me, I’m five weeks into my new role (as skip, replacing Colleen Jones) so it was going to take a bit of time to get going.
“We know what we have so it doesn’t surprise me we played as well as we did. We played solid two games now.
I’m seeing the glimmer and the glimpse of our team getting back here”.
Polar skip Koe, who says she won’t be satisfied with anything less than a best-ever 5-6 record, was elated with her team’s initial victory.
“It’s feels so good to get a win,” he said. “No one likes a losing streak. We knew we could play better, we had better communications, we caught on to the ice better, we actually controlled some ends. It feels so much better.”
The team adapted to the ice conditions, too.
“Normally we like the finesse game but it’s tough to play that here. So we tried to keep this one more open, tried putting our rocks in the right positions by hitting and rolling and it worked.”
Overton-Clapham, labouring under certain expectations after her departure from Team Canada at the end of last season, appeared bamboozled by her Manitoba’s poor showing.
“Certainly I’m surprised,” she said. “We’re going to have to meet tonight and discuss what we have to do to get another win under our belts.
“There just aren’t enough shots made. By the time I shoot we’re in trouble. We don’t even have the button available. It’s hard when you don’t have that. So we’re going to have to figure it out.
We have to figure out why we’re not making enough shots.”