Manitoba’s Cathy-O Beats Her Former Scotties Skip

It was a crowd-rouser, to be sure. And Cathy-O, the massively sentimental favourite and underdog who was drawing chants of ‘Cathy-O, Cathy-O’ won it . . . 8-6 with a 95 per cent shooting performance, probably her best-ever as a skip. Scotties Tournament Of Hearts leader Amber Holland and her Saskatchewan teammates (8-1) were out on the town with their supporters, spending Holland’s $1,000 Hot Shots winnings. Ontario’s Rachel Homan, right in the thick of the race for playoff berths at 6-3, probably was watching the game either in the Civic Centre or on television. “I love the game,” she said earlier. “I’ll be watching. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.” Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink, always a contender at 6-3, may have been taking in the tilt on TV, too. The others with a playoff shot — notably Heather Smith-Dacey and Kelly Scott — were on the freeze, attempting to stay focused and up there with the leaders on Wednesday night’s ballyhooed draw . . . the one on which defending Scotties champion skip Jennifer Jones was taking on defending Scotties champion third Cathy Overton-Clapham.

Manitoba skip Cathy Overton-Clapham. (Photo: Andrew Klaver Photography)

It was a crowd-rouser, to be sure. And Cathy-O, the massively sentimental favourite and underdog who was drawing chants of ‘Cathy-O, Cathy-O’ won it . . . 8-6 with a 95 per cent shooting performance, probably her best-ever as a skip. In truth, however, it was a sidebar to the issue of deciding a 2011 Scotties champ and a Canadian rep for world play next month in Denmark. The loss for the defending champs left them in a logjam, two games behind Saskatchewan, at 6-3 . . . along with Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Never mind. Until this morning, this real or perceived feud was going to take centre stage. And so it did in front of a live crowd of 2,175 and a national television audience. Jones opened with a deuce, courtesy a Leslie Wilson miss and Cathy-O drew the four-foot looking at five Team Canada counters in the second end. The game turned thereafter. Manitoba stole the tying point in the third when Jones’s last button draw was inches too deep. Then Jones drew the pot looking at a hidden pair in the fourth but jammed on Cathy-O’s near-freeze in the fifth and left Manitoba with a draw for a go-ahead deuce. Jones tied it again in the sixth, following Overton-Clapham’s last deep bury into the four-foot. Then a deuce in the seventh blew it open when Cathy-O drew after Jones doubled out two of three enemy stones in the rings. Jones was forced to draw for one in the eighth but, in the ninth, Overton-Clapham executed the game’s most precise  shot after Jones had drawn a near-perfect corner freeze into the four-foot. Cathy-O slashed the Jones rock and left two of her own counting for an 8-5 cushion. “I’ve never been in a game with a crowd like that,” said the jubilant Overton-Clapham who said she was pumped up for the game because her team wanted to keep playing well. “You can use a crowd like that to your own advantage, for sure. We were putting our rocks in the right spots and getting our deuces when we needed them.” Any reason for that pumped-up look other than the fact the crowd was obviously on her side? “I just wanted to play well,” she said. “I don’t think the win proved anything. They (Jones team) made a (personnel) decision and stuck with it and that’s fine, we’ll all move on and now we won’t have to talk about this game again. “I guess you could say it was my final because we’re not going to be in the final. But I wanted to have fun and that’s when I play well . . . when I’m having fun. “I wish we could have played this game last Saturday. Maybe it would have set a different tone for the week. The real Team Manitoba really hasn’t been here yet. Hopefully we can close it off with a couple more wins tomorrow.”

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones. (Photo: Andrew Klaver Photography)

Jones shrugged off the loss with a wide smile. “It was just like playing anybody else,” she insisted. “It just felt like any game at the Scotties when you’re on Wednesday night. It was a great game for TV which is what I’ve been saying all along, so I wish it would have come down to last shot because we were a little short on ours. “I thought they played great, they outplayed us and deserved to win that game. I don’t think there was anything to prove, we’ve always said she (Overton-Clapham) was a great player. “I didn’t notice the crowd that much at the end, I just noticed the game was a lot of fun to play. “I guess you guys won’t be relieved, you’ll have to think of different questions now. Sorry. “We’re exactly where we want to be (in the Scotties). In terms of the round robin it wasn’t the best loss but we still control our own destiny and need a couple more wins tomorrow. We do that and finish second, what more do you want?” Each team goes into the final day of the round robin with two games to play. It is likely the post round-robin field has been reduced to no more that six teams. Here’s how they’ll play it out today: Saskatchewan (8-1) — 9:30 a.m. New Brunswick (3-6); 7:30 p.m. British Columbia (5-4). Team Canada (6-2) — 2:30 p.m. Nova Scotia (6-3); 7:30 p.m. Alberta (6-3). Ontario  (6-3) — 9:30 a.m. Territories (3-6); 7:30 p.m. Quebec (3-6). Alberta (6-3) — 9:30 a.m. Nova Scotia (6-3); 7:30 p.m. Team Canada (6-3). Nova Scotia (6-3) — 9:30 a.m. Alberta (6-3); 2:30 p.m. Team Canada (6-3). British Columbia (5-4) — 2:30 p.m. New Brunswick (3-6); 7:30 p.m. Saskatchewan (8-1). In other games Wednesday night, Nova Scotia’s Smith-Dacey won her second of the day, whaling Newfoundland’s Stacie Devereaux 11-3, Kelly Scott of British Columbia topped off a two-win day by whipping Kerry Galusha of the Territories 7-2 and Andrea Kelly of New Brunswick shrugged off a case of sinus infection and defeated Marie-France Larouche of Quebec 8-5 with four points in the closing two ends. Smith-Dacey put an end to Saskatchewan’s undefeated skein in the afternoon, 7-4, but the Green Machine remained assured of a playoff berth following today’s action. “We just played our best game by far,” said Overton-Clapham, moments after upending Ontario’s Rachel Homan 10-6 in another afternoon tilt which obviously set up Manitoba’s evening performance. It was Homan’s second loss of the day — she bowed 6-4 to Jones in the morning. Homan said her team had no doubt it needed to win its final two games Thursday. “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.” As for Smith-Dacey, she said, “it was our best team game of the week”. “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. . “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. Among other afternoon tilts, Alberta’s Kleibrink won her third straight, bouncing Kelly of New Brunswick 7-3. 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. Birt attempted a quiet tap on a Territories rock in the four-foot with a couple of dangerous guards posing a danger but her weight on the shot was a heavy, she failed to totally remove the stone and rolled out the shooter leaving Galusha (3-5) with a 7-6 win. Holland hammered Devereaux 10-2 in the morning while Jones stopped Homan’s Ottawa foursome 7-4. Kleibrink’s Calgary crew beat Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche 9-4 and Scott battled the hometown favourites and some very loud conditions to beat Suzanne Birt’s P.E.I. champs 4-3. Said Kleibrink later: “It’s looking like four losses will be there (playoffs) now. We think we’ll be there at the end if we play like we can. And I think we are playing that way. “Today, I felt so comfortable that we think we can make anything. All teams get better as a tournament like this wears on and they get the feel of it.” Alberta gets the defending champion in tonight’s last round-robin draw at 7:30 p.m. (AT). “They (Team Canada) are going to be solid and we’ll have to bring our A-game for sure,” opined Kleibrink.