Bluenosers harpoon Saskatchewan win streak

Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey put an end to Saskatchewan’s undefeated skein at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts on Wednesday afternoon. The Bluenosers caught Amber Holland and Company with a cold hand but the Saskatchewan team remained in the lead with two games remaining and an 8-1 record, assured of qualifying for the playoff round following round-robin play Thursday.

Heather Smith-Dacey at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts(Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

Defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg had the afternoon bye and goes out against her former teammate, Cathy Overton-Clapham, in the tournament’s most -hyped matchup tonight at 7:30 (AT). Jones is 6-2 with three games to play. Overton-Clapham’s Manitoba team is 2-6 and out of playoff contention but with a strong urge the contribute to a Team Canada downfall. After seven years with Jones as vice-skip, Overton-Clapham was unceremoniously dumped from the team following last season and replaced with a more youthful Kaitlyn Lawes. The reason, according to the Jones camp, was a need for youth in long-range preparation for the 2013 Olympic trials. But Overton-Clapham claimed she was blindsided by the move and disloyally stripped of the perks associated with winning last year’s Scotties — an automatic return plus entry to the Canada Cup championship and the Continental Cup. Overton-Clapham, of course, threw together her own team and won the Manitoba title. And so to tonight’s battle of wills. “We just played our best game by far,” said Overton-Clapham, moments after upending Ontario’s Rachel Homan 10-6 this afternoon. It was Homan’s second loss of the day — she bowed 6-4 to Jones in the morning. “This is nice to be able regroup,” added the skip known as Cathy-O who turned in an 88 per-cent shooting effort. “We’ve had three strong performances in a row now and it’s going to fun heading into tonight’s game on the heels of a well-played effort.” Homan (6-3) said her team had no doubt it needed to win its final two games Thursday (vs. Kerry Galusha’s Territories team and Marie-France Larouche of Quebec). “This morning, it was one or two shots here and there,” said Homan. “The last game was a little ugly. But I think we can come back from this one. It’s a new game, we can start fresh and try to return to playing the way we were playing before today. We know we can do it.” Smith-Dacey’s big win moved Nova Scotia up the ladder to 5-3 with a match against Newfoundland’s Stacie Devereaux looming  tonight. “It was our best team game of the week,” said the Nova Scotia skip. “Mark (husband and coach Dacey) said. ‘it’s all about playing at the end of the week and now you have your opportunity’ “We’ve had our week broken up into parts and we’re right on pace with what we want to do. Another win today will put us in a good position tomorrow. “I feel some momentum now, I really do. It’s confidence. This game can leave you so quickly. But this win (over Saskatchewan) was a must win for us, in terms of confidence and for a lot of reasons.” Holland flashed a double-kill in the fourth end to enable Nova Scotia a 4-2 jump, then allowed another theft of a deuce in the eighth end. “We didn’t manage the ice or the rocks well. I didn’t get a feel for it,” said the Saskatchewan skip. “Even my last draw, we swept it all the way down and it went back-12. I said, ‘what’s going on’? They said, ‘you threw the same weight’. I said, ‘well then I don’t know what’s going on’. “That’s OK, we’ll just park it and move on. We have to focus on our performance and I didn’t perform very well out there. I couldn’t find anything that apparently was working.” Her 64 per cent score on shots, poorest of the tournament to date, was a testament to that. In other afternoon tilts, Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink won her third straight, bouncing Andrea Kelly of New Brunswick 7-3. Kleibrink moved to 6-3 with two games to go. Homestanding Charlottetown skip Suzanne Birt missed her last shot in an extra end to record her fifth loss of the week, probably one too many to hope for a playoff berth. The Islanders controlled their match with Galusha, but a steal of two by the Polars in the eighth and a tying deuce in the 10th enabled them to scrape back into contention. At the finish, Birt attempted a quiet tap on a Territories rock in the four-foot with a couple of guards posing a danger but her weight on the shot was heavy, she failed to totally remove the target stone and rolled out the shooter leaving Galusha (3-5) with a 7-6 win. In other games tonight, the Territories goes against British Columbia’s Kelly Scott (4-4) while Quebec’s Larouche faces New Brunswick’s Kelly, who has been hampered by a sinus infection.