Team Canada One Victory Shy Of A Fourth Straight Title

One win. Just one win. Defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg needs one more win for her fourth straight Scotties Tournament Of Hearts skipping title, tying the legendary Colleen Jones of Halifax. Manitoba’s Jones also needs just one win on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. for her fifth overall title, one shy of Colleen Jones’s six skipping successes. Manitoba’s Jones and her second player Jill Officer also need just one win to move alongside former teammate Cathy Overton-Clapham, Joyce McKee of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotians Mary-Anne Arsenault, Nancy Delahunt and Kim Kelly as five-time Scotties champs.

Jill Officer at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts(Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

Lead Dawn Askin requires one win, just one more, to join four-time winners Vera Pezer and Lee Morrison of Saskatchewan. Yes, just one measly little win . . . in the championship final of the 2011 Scotties at the Civic Centre. Jones’s Team Canada unit of Kaitlyn Lawes, Officer and Askin moved to within that one win on Friday night, twice battling from behind to defeat Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland 10-9 in a wild-scoring Page One-Two playoff game played before 2,233 fans. With the loss, her third of the competition, Holland dropped into Saturday’s 5 p.m. semi-final against the winner of an earlier playoff match between Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Heather Smith-Dacey of Halifax. Meanwhile, Jones was ecstatic with her team and the result. “It’s so much fun to play with this team,” she allowed. “It’s the most amazing team I’ve ever been a part of. “Dawn (lead Askin) has been unbelievable. I’m almost in awe. Kaitlyn (third Lawes) has been playing great. Not so bad for her first time out.” Jones said her team is “more comfortable with the ice” and “a bit sharper”. As for the idle Saturday to get set for Sunday’s final? “I like it,” she said. “Day off tomorrow? We’re in the final! Love it.” Jones followed the same route a year ago in Sault Ste. Marie and staged a comeback to win the final. Saskatchewan opened with gusto, scoring a pair at the outset. Then they forced Jones to execute a precise double-raise for one in the second. Holland drew a piece of the button looking at a pair in the third and Jones drew the four-foot looking at three in the fourth. In the fifth, Holland executed a thin double-kill to score two and take a 5-2 edge. Jones turned up the offence in the second half. Holland was in the glue for much of the sixth exchange but, in the end, Jones had an open hit for just a pair. The turning point arrived when Jones buried two rocks in the four-foot and Holland’s last in-turn of the seventh end hung out on a runback attempt, leaving the double theft and the go-ahead points for her foe. Another double-kill set up an eighth-end deuce in reply but, in the ninth, Holland was one exchange of rocks late attempting to get an in-turn freeze into the four-foot and yielded a count of three before Jones even threw her last rock which wrecked. Holland had an open hit for a tying deuce in the 10th, though, after utilizing corner guards. In the 11th, the Saskatchewan skip had opportunities for tight buries in the four-foot with both turns on skip rocks but was light with her first and wrecked with her second. Jones wasn’t required to throw her last stone. “We just had a really bad ninth end, we needed to execute a few more shots there,” said Holland, the round-robin leader. “You have to make shots against a team like that, you know their going to come at you strong. And they took advantage of some poor middle-of-the-end shooting from us. “There was nothing wrong with the ice. I think it’s more the player in the hack not focusing in what needed to be done. Overall, we followed the game plan we wanted, it was just execution.” And on a philosophical note . . . “Now that we’re down to sudden death with our backs to the wall,” said the Saskatchewan champ, “it’s sometimes when a team plays best.”