Jones clinches first place

Draw 16 Thursday afternoon at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts was expected to answer some questions of separation in the standings, and it did just that.The Enmax Centrium in Red Deer witnessed cream rising to the top and the end of the line for other teams clinging to tie-breaker hopes. Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones controlled most of her game against Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche in what could be a preview of the 1-2 Page playoff game Friday night.

Jennifer Jones watches the ice during Draw 16 of the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. (Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

Larouche came into the draw as the hottest team on ice, on a five-game roll, but Jones scored one, stole one, and after giving up a deuce for a 3-3 tie heading into four, her crew controlled the board the rest of the way for a comfy 7-4 win. Clinching first, especially against the hottest team in the field was satisfying for Jones. “We’re just happy to make the playoffs, we know we’re in,” says Jones. “I felt the girls played great in front of me. It was probably our best game as a team and we just want to build on that.”(Continued Below…) Draw 16 Photos
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Consistency-wise, it was the likely the best all-round team performance of the week, say Jones. “We didn’t really take any ends off and I think we picked up on the ice, but everything starts fresh on Friday so we’ll have to be sharp then.” One of the most established teams in the field, Jones says past lessons are important but not the be-all, end-all. “Experience never hurts. We’ve been here before. I don’t think it’s necessary but it never hurts, it’s definitely on our side. We have tons of experience in lots of different ways.” The victory clinches the top seed in the 1-2 game Friday night with a record of 8-2. They have one more game tonight against Ontario, eliminated at 4-6. Larouche, meanwhile, finishes the round-robin at 7-4 and will have to wait and see what happens when B.C.’s Kelly Scott takes on New Brunswick. A win by Scott punches her ticket to the 1-2 game. A loss, depending on what Alberta’s Heather Nedohin does against Nova Scotia, and what Amber Holland’s Canadian crew does against Saskatchewan, could bring tiebreakers into play. Manitoba, B.C. and Quebec have clinched more play, Canada and Alberta can do the same with wins, at least tie-breakers. Saskatchewan’s Michelle Englot was officially eliminated after dropping a 7-4 decision to the resilient Territorial team of Kerry Galusha. Saskatchewan rolls into spoiler mode tonight against provincial rivals Holland (Team Canada). Galusha finsishes a long, hard week (team illness) at 7-4, while Englot sits at 4-6. Nova Scotia was also officially eliminated with a 10-5 loss to Heather Strong of Newfoundland, again the Rock rockers played spoiler. Despite a woeful start, Strong’s crew left their best two games of the draw until the end, big wins including one on national TV Wednesday night. “Any team that I have been part of, for whatever reason, we get off to a slow start,” says Strong. “I don’t have the answer for that, if I did we’d do something about it. “We’ll go back and see why things went south early, but we seem to be able to play spoiler later on when we are a little more loose,” she says. Heather Smith-Dacey’s team drops to 4-6, while Strong ends the week 4-7. New Brunswick clings to a thin tiebreaker hope after getting hammered 11-4 by Prince Edward Island. The loss drops the Loyalists to 5-5, and they will need all sorts of help. Rebecca Atkinson’s team needs Canada and Alberta to lose tonight, and they will need to beat Scott’s B.C. crew to create a three-way tie at 6-5. Any other scenario sees them out. For Island skipper Kim Dolan, who announced that today’s game was her last in competitive curling, it was an emotional afternoon.(Continued Below…) Draw 16 Media Scrum

“It’s a great way to go out,” she said. “It would have been nice to have a few more through the week, we had great games and my team played well.” What will the chair of last year’s Scotties remember most fondly about her years of competitive curling? “It’s the people and the curlers and certainly, beyond most, it’s my teammates and all the teammates I have had over the years, just the friendships across this country,” says Dolan. “I don’t think there’s any place you’d rather be than being one of the curlers knowing those other curlers.” So is this really it for Dolan? Can she stay away from the Charlottetown Curling Club for very long? “There’s always things to be done,” she laughs. “I’ve spent a lot of years, curling’s been great to me, maybe it’s time to take a little rest from that,” she reflects. “You never knows what comes up, I never like to say I’m completely out of everything, but last year was a big year (hosting), this year was a big year with winning, and I think it’s time to take a rest for a little while.” P.E.I. finished with a 3-8 record.