Saskatchewan keeps rolling, Jones kayoes Ontario

Wednesday morning at the Civic Centre in Charlottetown started off with two trends which continue moving in the same direction. Amber Holland’s stealthy Saskatchewan squad continued to look unbeatable, running their record to a tidy 8-0 with a seven-end 10-2 winover Stacie Devereaux’s Newfoundland/Labrador crew. And Canada’s Jennifer Jones continued to build momentum — something her team has done con sistently at past Scotties. She caught up to second-place Ontario at 6-2, beating Rachel Homan’s Ottawa foursome 7-4.

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

For Holland’s Kronau club, being unbeaten is a bonus, but the skipper says invincibility is not on her mind. “It’s nice to be unbeaten, but it’s still curling and lots of stuff can happen on the ice,” said the upbeat Holland. The team has been money this week and it’s been a long time since they have been on a roll like this one, she admits. “Last year’s provincials, we played very well — we went through that with just one loss, and I think we’re playing the same way here.” At eight wins, Holland is all but guaranteed weekend playoff action, but she says she’s not too pre-occupied with that notion. “We’ll do what we have to do to make the playoffs and worry about the rest later,” she said. For Jones, who will take to the sheet tonight in the most-ballyhooed scheduled contest of the week —– squaring off against her long time third Cathy Overton-Clapham of Manitoba – getting back to even with the young guns from Ontario was key as the team continues to maintain a roll. “I thought we made some good shots. We do want to get better as the week goes on — that’s a good trend to have,” said Jones, who’s team is used to slow starts before picking up speed heading toward the weekend. “I think it would have been a good game for TV – lots of rocks in play, lots of good shots – we had to keep up with them, so it was a big win for us,” said Jones of the Homan team, one she called “the next generation of curling.” Homan took the loss in stride, as she has win or lose this week. She said breaking down the loss was pretty simple. “We just made too many mistakes . . . gave up that three,” she said, referring to a Jones-made trio in the eighth end which ostensibly sealed the deal. “Even in the other ends, we made too many mistakes. We had some chances and just threw them away,” said Homan, who curled an uncharacteristic 64 per cent. Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink and B.C.’s Kelly Scott also registered key victories. Kleibrink’s Calgary crew beat Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche 9-4, while Scott battled the hometown favourites and some very loud conditions to beat Suzanne Birt’s P.E.I. champs 4-3, evening both lsing sides’ records at 4-4. Kleibrink jumped to 5-3 and said her team is gaining confidence. “I don’t think we’re playing any different, in fact, I don’t think we played as well as yesterday . We just got some breaks,” she surmised. “I actually missed a shot that turned out better than the one I called,” she laughed. “It’s the first time things went our way on the ledger.” For Scott’s Kelowna team, the win avoided that dreaded fifth loss. Playing on Sheet D, cowbells and chants of “P-E-I’” rained down consistently, but the British Columbians overcame that and the skipper counted her blessings. “We were happy to play P.E.I. in the morning draw – those night draws, the fans are crazy,” Scott said. She added that her crew, two-time champs, is also gaining confidence. “We snuck out that win against Quebec yesterday and now we had a good performance this morning so we want to come out and keep building on that tonight.” She’ll have to do that on a night where the focal point is most likely to be the Jones/Overton-Clapham match. Team Canada’s skip played down the hype, saying it’s business as usual as the tourney gets to its final stages. “ (I’m going to) go home have a nap, have a little rest, come out and try to play even better than we did this afternoon to keep the momentum going,” said Jones. “Every game gets bigger.” Draw 13 this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. (AT) sees Nova Scotia play Saskatchewan, Manitoba take on Ontario, New Brunswick play Alberta, and P.E.I. battle the Territories.