Five remain in hunt for Scotties tiara

And then, suddenly, there were five —­ one over the minimum number of teams scheduled to survive the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts preliminaries which wrapped up Thursday night at the Civic Centre.
  • Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland (9-2) remained at the top and in the Page-One Two playoff match tonight at 7:30 despite a stunning 8-5 loss to British Columbia’s Kelly Scott of Kelowna in the final round.
  • Defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg (8-3) qualified to play Holland in the Page One-Two joust, eliminating Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink 8-5 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
The Page One-Two leads directly to Sunday’s championship final at 7:30 p.m. with the loser dropping to Saturday’s semi-final at 5 p.m.
  • Ontario’s 21-year-old Rachel Homan (8-3) came from behind to steal a 5-4 win over Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche and claimed the No. 3 playoff spot and a berth in Saturday’s sudden-death Page Three-Four playoff at 12 noon. The winner of that tilt moves to the semi-final later in the afternoon.
  • Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey (7-4) sat out a last-round bye Thursday but already had clinched at least a tiebreaker shot which will be decided today at 2:30 p.m.
  • British Columbia’s Kelly Scott (7-4) staged a miraculous comeback against the tournament leader Thursday night to remain alive and in the tiebreaker. Scott trailed Saskatchewan 5-1 after four ends, then refused to allow Holland back on the scoreboard, posting a single in the fifth end and heisting singles in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth ends and an insurance pair in the final frame.
Say goodbye to the remainder . . . a disappointed bunch. Most notably Kleibrink whose veteran team was rated highly heading into the tournament.

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

“You don’t get many chances to be here so you should make the most of those chances,” she said. “It’s disappointing. The draw weight was so heavy in that game we didn’t catch on. We couldn’t come back from that. We had one chance on that tough shot of hers looking at five but she had the perfect line. We just weren’t playing well enough. We probably wouldn’t have got past the next game.” Kleibrink then shrugged off the adversity. “We’ll be funded next year and we’ll be back at it.” Meanwhile, the defending champion team will be back at it tonight. “I thought we had a great day today – we had a great last five games actually,” said Jones. “We’re just really happy with that. We had just such a fun day today, we were really relaxed. And obviously the One-Two playoff game is really nice.” The question now is, will the week’s leader be ready after Thursday night’s collapse which, in terms of the final playoff shakeout, was meaningless? “It doesn’t concern me at all,” said Saskatchewan’s Holland. “We’re where we need to be. We’re in the One-Two playoff. We just didn’t execute at all tonight. It’s fine. It is what it is. “We struggled, trying to make shots. We didn’t position rocks as well. We had a lot of rocks at the back of the rings that weren’t where they needed to be, in the front of the rings. And Kelly’s team was making everything! After we dropped the four-ball on her she played really well.” In terms of skip’s shooting percentages, Scott 88, Holland 57. “They turned up the heat and we didn’t rise to the challenge. We obviously would have liked to win. But it’s about performance. “We changed the lineup because Tammy (second Schneider) wasn’t up to par. After her little tumble this morning (against New Brunswick) her knee is bothering her a bit. She wanted to rest it to make sure she’s ready for the playoffs.” Schneider made contact with a moving rock when she tumbled while sweeping. Scott, who finished fourth last year after losing to Ontario’s Krista McCarville in the Page Three-Four tussle, recalled her early affair with Nova Scotia. “They played in the 80s and we were chasing all the way,” she said. “She (Smith-Dacey) made a great double to score four and that dictated that result. So we’re hoping for a better finish. “Somehow we’re able to pull off these wins. Everybody was ready to write us off but we clawed our way back into it again. I think we were a little more in control of the standings last year. We finished off with a few wins and then based on the draw-to-the-buttons during the week we got right into third spot. “I think we’re playing better now and I’d say the conditions are tougher. We have to have a good handle on different draw paths and not get down, keep it close right to the end, and I think we have a good chance. “There were more tougher teams here this year. Last year, there were just a couple of frontrunners. Here there were many teams in it right up to the last draw.” Homan made an excellent tapback in her bid to seal the win from Larouche. “She made a really nice draw through the port to try the tapback but I don’t think the shot was ever there,” she said of Larouche’s last shot. Homan was excited about how well the game was played. “Oh my goodness,” said the Ottawa skip, “she (Larouche) played 110 per cent, she played great. We did, too. We were down two and couldn’t believe it. We had to battle back. It was ridiculous — a crazy game. “I felt so defeated because I did absolutely everything right and when she stole in the eighth end I didn’t even have a shot.” Alberta and Suzanne Birt’s P.E.I. crew finished with 6-5 records while Quebec and Manitoba’s Cathy Overton-Clapham were 4-7, Kerry Galusha of the Territories and Andrea Kelly of New Brunswick were 3-8 and Newfoundland’s Stacie Devereaux was 1-10. P.E.I.’s Birt doubled Devereaux 10-5 Thursday night, stealing a pair of three-enders en route. Jones walloped Smith-Dacey 9-4 in the afternoon The Nova Scotia skip gave the Jones team all the credit. “They had an awesome game,” she allowed.  “We couldn’t get the offence going. This was coming off our four-games-in-a-row stint so we may have been a little tired. “We came in thinking that 7-4 would be a record we could achieve in this field. Now we’re looking forward to the playoffs and whatever they bring.” In other afternoon tussles, British Columbia’s Scott stole a 10th-end deuce to defeat New Brunswick 6-4, Quebec’s Larouche stole two in an extra end 10-8 defeat of Kerry Galusha of the Territories and Manitoba clicked in an extra end for an 8-7 decision against Newfoundland. Holland ran her record to 9-1 in he morning with a last-shot 7-6 win over New Brunswick which guaranteed her a spot in the Page One-Two playoff. Homan came back from two losses Wednesday to take care of business Galusha’s Territories team 9-3 and Smith-Dacey made a double for a deuce in the 10th end against Alberta for a 7-4 decision.. In one other game, P.E.I.’s Birt posted an 8-5 win over Overton-Clapham’s Manitoba squad which seemed fatigued after its emotional victory over Team Canada the night previous.