Scotties experience rises to the top

Experience took a step forward at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts on Sunday night. Defending champion Amber Holland of Kronau, Sask., faced a must out-turn double-kill with her last rock against Alberta’s Heather Nedohin at the Enmax Centrium and was right on the money to slip away with a 6-5 victory and a share of the lead in the 12-team national championship. Joining Holland at 3-and-0 was two-time champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna, who drew for three with last rock to defeat Ontario rookie Tracy Horgan of Sudbury 9-8 after Horgan had appeared to take control of the issue.

Amber Holland reacts to a play during Draw 5 of the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

The 25-year-old Horgan, who is playing like a far more experienced veteran, dropped to 2-and-1 along with four-time champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg and seven-time Saskatchewan champion Michelle Englot of Regina. Holland controlled Alberta until Nedohin stole a tying single in the eighth end and a go-ahead point in the ninth. Playing the 10th, Nedohin succeeded in clearing Team Canada stones until Holland drew her first behind a guard in the four-foot and Nedohin chose to attempt to follow with her last rock but left it hanging and vulnerable to the double. (Continued below…) Draw 5 Photos
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“I thought she had a pretty good shot with her last one, it just didn’t seem to finish as much as mine did,” assessed the defender who won a world silver medal last spring. “If she locks it on there I’m in tough to score but I’d have been shooting probably only for one for sure. “It’s all part of being a skip. You really have to position those rocks sometimes precisely so you make it tough on the other team. “We were guilty of not putting them in the right spots to let them back in it. In the eighth, when they stole, she positioned her rocks better than I did.” Holland admitted that Alberta presented the most difficult argument of the three she’d faced to that point. “We had to stay sharp this whole game,” she said. Holland’s prescription for the future? “For us, it’s just that we feel comfortable with the ice and how we’re throwing. We may need to clean up a few things just to stay sharper in the later ends. The moment you start feeling uncomfortable things don’t feel so good out there.” (Continued Below…) Draw 5 Media Scrum
Scott opened with three in second and a stolen 4-1 lead after the third before Horgan turned up the heat and outscored B.C. 7-2 over the next six panels. That left Scott two down with the hammer and vice-skip Sasha Carter managed to twice bury rocks in the four-foot behind guards which set up the win. Horgan’s last, an attempting double, hung out and left Scott with a four-foot draw for the winning trio. “It was tough for them,” said Scott. “They played lights out and the skip didn’t miss a shot for nine ends. he was making runback doubles and runback sticks. “I had no trouble with the way we were throwing the rocks but the results weren’t within the margins we were looking for. So we’ll just take that win and walk away. “It was the kind of game where we could have just packed it in and decided to start fresh tomorrow but after the ninth end we said, ‘let’s find a way, let’s grind it out’. “We’d been giving her tough shots and she’d made us look stupid on her tough shots. Those girls can play. They’re a solid young team.” Scott said there’s still room for improvement from her squad even though it’s undefeated. “By no means are we playing high nineties and coming up with great rock positions so taking three wins is a bonus. But I hope there are signs we’ll get better. We have a good handle on this but there’s always room for improvement.” Team Canada and B.C. collide this morning at 8:30 in a Draw Five affair while Alberta plays Ontario. In other evening matches, Newfoundland’s Heather Strong of St. John’s won her first in four starts, thumping inconsistent Kerry Galusha of the Territories 8-3 while Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche scored with the hammer in the 10th end for a 5-4 duke, handing Spud Island’s Kim Dolan her third loss. “Our coach is really good at keeping us focused on the present and thanks to Jamie (Korab) we just went out there and had some fun and made some shots — back-to-back shots,” said Strong, who stole three points en route. “We’ve been making shots, but not consecutively. “Everybody had a flash card and we put those back in our pockets for this game. “No excuses, but it had been adrenaline and keen ice we’re not used to that got us in trouble. We’d be in too deep. We had to go top tee and we did that in this game. “A first win will give us some confidence and we’re going to take that and sleep a little easier. You have to get on a roll at some point and it’s still a long week.” Quebec had control early against the Islanders but lost it when Dolan stole ahead in the seventh end. A deuce in the next exchange enabled Larouche to finagle a position in which she had the last rock on the last end. “I hope the momentum will stay with us,” said the skip from St-Romuald. “We played very well tonight. We are not too stressed. We are learning game by game and I think we will be better and better.” The Territories and Quebec were 2-2 at day’s end while Alberta and New Brunswick were 1-2, and Newfoundland, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey were 0-3.