The current Scotties Tournament Of Hearts began to assume a fairly familiar stance on Wednesday morning. Four-time champion Jennifer Jones and her Winnipeg team climbed alone to the top of the heap with a 6-and-2 record by stealing an extra-end deuce and an 8-6 victory over an old foe, Kelly Scott of Kelowna.
Scott, whose team has been ravaged by flu, moved alternate Sherry Fraser to the third position while regular third Sasha Carter was taken to hospital for IV treatment. And the revamped B.C. lineup performed well under the pressure until Fraser flashed her last takeout on a partially open Jones rock in the four-foot which left the B.C. skip wallowing in the glue.
Jones stashed a second draw in the four-foot after Scott executed one runback but left her shooter guarding the Manitoba counter. That left Scott facing a long runback double attempt.
Her rock over-curled.
Elsewhere, defending champion Amber Holland lost her second straight, tumbling into a four-way scramble at 5-and-3 along with New Brunswick, Alberta and B.C. Quebec, which had the morning off, was 4-and-3 heading into today’s second draw (1:30 p.m. MT) at the Enmax Centrium.
“First place?” Jones repeated a remark from a reporter. “I had no idea. We knew it was a big game. Obviously they (B.C.) had a good record as well, so we want to beat those teams and get on a bit of a roll.(Continued Below…)
Draw 12 Photos
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“I thought we really fought to win that game like we fought to beat Saskatchewan (Tuesday afternoon).”
Control shifted with practically every last rock until Jones narrowly missed a difficult cold draw to a corner of the four-foot for a winning deuce in the 10th end. But it shifted big-time in overtime.
Scott, who has two Scotties titles in her past, appeared flustered by the personnel issues that have befallen her squad. Particular in view of the fact she has exhibited obvious personnel improvements this season in the confidence and shotmaking departments.
“I don’t know, but I think that’s as tough a challenge as we’ll get and it went down to last rock,” she allowed.
“So I’m very happy with where we are and if we have to continue with this same lineup I think we’ll be OK.
“This is kind of hard on me as a skip, but its hard on everybody. There’s a lot of juggling going on and it’s tough in a week like this. We just want to go out and perform our best and there are a lot of outside factors that we’re dealing with right now.”
Scott said she feared Carter, who has played with her since the mid-Nineties in junior company, may not return to action this week.
The team has experimented with rookie Dailene Sivertson at third rocks but will settle on Fraser.
“Sherry’s a very straight shooter,” said Scott. “I do have to adjust the ice for her. But I think I know what I’m going to get out of it. I just don’t want Dailene to have added pressure trying to fill new shoes. So I think we’ll stick with this lineup.”
Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey, facing an uphill climb with a 3-5 record, won her third at the expense of Holland’s suddenly shaky Kronau, Sask., outfit.
Holland has missed last-rock draws in her last two games. Against the Bluenosers, she needed it to force Smith-Dacey to throw the final stone in an extra end. It wasn’t necessary, and Nova Scotia prevailed 7-6.
Alberta’s Heather Nedohin, meanwhile, shook off an uncertain start and turned it around with four in the eighth end to conquer Saskatchewan’s Michelle Englot 9-8, and red-hot New Brunswick, with Becky Atkinson skipping and Andrea Kelly tossing the last bricks, nudged Ontario rookie Tracy Horgan of Sudbury 6-5.
“We finally felt like our team out there today,” said Smith-Dacey.
“There was much better execution. All of our opponents have played really well against us. We went back and had a look. We just didn’t apply pressure when we had opportunities.
“I mean, I know our team and we can play with anybody in the field. Unfortunately we got backs against the wall because of the opening weekend but now we just have to play them one at a time and try to get as many wins as possible and see how it turns out.” (Continued Below…)
Draw 12 Media Scrum
Said the always serene Holland:
“We weren’t quite there today and Heather made a lot of shots. We didn’t put pressure on when we needed to and didn’t quite get the rocks in the good spots.
“It’s been a shot here or there. We’re in every game. We just have to start capitalizing on shots when we get opportunities. And I have to finish off with my last ones.”
Alberta quickly shook off the surrender of an opening deuce and stole two to take control in the fourth end.
But the crusher was the eighth when Nedohin had an open hit for the quartet.
“We have to run the table at this point, win our last three and go from there,” analyzed Englot afterward.
“Three wins will still put us in a good position for playoffs, I think.”
She admitted she didn’t see the eighth end coming.
“My first rock over-curled, the second was just a foot heavy and bounced off,” she said. “If I make that she has a tough draw for two (instead of an open hit for four). We had her chasing us that whole end and then it turned around on a dime.”
New Brunswick lead Jodie deSolla joined the infirmary list with lower-body problems but it had little effect on the Herringchokers’ swift run. Alternate Jeanette Murphy moved in effectively.
“We just hope we can continue to keep four players on the ice, what with the flu going around,” said Atkinson.
“I’m happy about our comfort level. It took us a few games to get really comfortable but we’re getting better weight control every game now for sure.”
In other afternoon games, Team Canada faces Kim Dolan’s Prince Edward Islanders, B.C. goes against the Territories and Alberta tackles Quebec.