Saskatchewan alone in front at the 2011 Scotties

Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland remained the only undefeated skip in the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts on Tuesday afternoon. Holland skipped her Kronau team of third Kim Schneider, second Tammy Schneider and lead Heather Kalenchuk, to an 8-5 victory over previously unbeaten Rachel Homan of Ontario in a mid-week battle of giants.

Amber Holland of Team Saskatchewan at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts(Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

“Obviously, we’re at the point where we know we have to stay focused,” said Holland, who took command of the issue with three in the third end and the theft of two in fourth end on a Homan miscue. “Your game plan doesn’t differ depending on who you play. You focus on what you can control. You sometimes look at a type of strategy another team likely will play against you based on how we play. But we play what’s in front of us, and focus on our objectives.” Saskatchewan doesn’t appear to have the toughest row to hoe from here on in. the team faces Kerry Galusha of the Territories (2-4) at 7:30 p.m. (AT) today, then goes against Nova Scotia (4-2) and Newfoundland (1-6) on Thursday, New Brunswick (2-4) and British Columbia (3-4) on Thursday. “We have to try to keep it all in perspective,” said Holland.  “It isn’t about being 6-and-0, it’s all about in-turns, out-turns, hit the broom, throw the right weight, that’s all it is. You keep all the other things that are going around you to the outside, and that’s what you do for the three hours you’re on the ice.” Some have suggested the Holland team is a throwback to the Saskatchewan hitting teams of old. “We’ve hit a lot here because we’ve gotten some leads,” said Holland, “but I wouldn’t brand us as a Saskatchewan hitting team. “We aren’t an overly aggressive, true. We don’t need a ton of rocks in play to generate points. We figured that out. Sometimes you can get overly aggressive and clutter it up and you can’t generate points. Sometimes the simple old-school split the rings and get your two works best. That comes from being successful at playing that way. That works for us.” Overall, Holland says women’s curling skips are more aggressive today that in days of yore. “Teams are getting more aggressive and more comfortable with rocks in play with the ability to play runbacks and shots like that. That’s a part of our game that we’ve stepped up.” The match featured the poorest effort (68 per cent shooting) turned in by the 21-year-old Homan this week. “I think we’re in a real good spot at 5-and-1 so we’re pretty happy about that,” said the Ontario skip, shrugging off the loss. “We struggled. It’s one game. We’ll go out and play the next one. You’re going to lose eventually. It’s tough to win every game. Now’s the time to lose, not the final.” In other afternoon tilts, defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg remained within firing distance of the lead at 5-and-2, walloping Stacie Devereaux of Newfoundland 10-4, home-standing Suzanne Birt of Charlottetown won her third in six starts, stealing an extra-end deuce to defeat Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink 7-5, and British Columbia’s Kelly Scott of Kelowna (3-4) bounced back from morning pounding to defeat Marie0-France Larouche (3-4) of Quebec when Larouche’s last-rock shot to win tracked and failed to curl. “I’m disappointed because I had a shot to win and I missed it,” said the former Canadian junior champ from St-Romuald. “I threw it well, I threw what I wanted, but it stayed very straight. I’d had no trouble with the ice until this shot. All the game it curled in there with light weight and I threw light weight on the broom and it didn’t curl. Now I am down for now because I have no answer for that miss.” Birt’s team played a perfect extra end which proved the difference when Kleibrink’s last shot, an attempted blast ijto a cluster, failed to curl sufficiently, similarly to the Larouche rock. “We had great angles, the girls made great shots and we finished it off with a couple of guards,” said the victorious P.E.I. skip. “Everybody has to make all their shots in an extra end. We were fortunate in that we made one or two more than they did.” Kleibrink agreed. “They made some great shots. Ours didn’t quite curl enough, then they got right to the middle in the pocket. We were never going to get that out. The second rock that didn’t curl hurt us in the end. “Our three losses have been real tight games so we’re not feeling like we’re out of it. And that game, we played really well until the last one. I think four losses will get in.