Manitoba wins first showdown against Ontario

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Manitoba’s Michelle Englot secured the No. 1 spot in the Page playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Thursday, with an easy 9-5 win over previously unbeaten Rachel Homan of Ontario. Englot scored four in the first end and never lost control of the scoreboard. The win gave Englot a 10-1 record, the same as Homan’s. Because Englot won the head-to-head meeting, she will have a choice between hammer or choice of rock colour when the two meet Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Meridian Centre. The winner of that game will advance directly to Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. gold-medal game, while the loser will drop to Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal Meanwhile, Team Canada’s Chelsea Carey secured one of the spots in the Page 3-4 game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) with an 11-5 win over Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker (1-9; Moose Jaw). It is yet to be determined if Carey will finish third or fourth. If Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville defeats Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories on Friday morning, she will finish in third place. If she loses, her Thunder Bay team will drop into a tiebreaker with Quebec’s Eve Bélisle (7-4; Mount Royal). McCarville defeated Nova Scotia’s Mary Mattatall (2-8; Windsor) 5-4 to take a 7-3 record into Friday morning’s final round-robin draw. Bélisle defeated British Columbia’s Marla Mallett (1-10; Maple Ridge) 8-5 to remain in the hunt. The game most fans came to see Thursday evening was the one between Englot and Homan. Some of the life was sucked out of the building when the Winnipeg team scored the four in the first end. Homan came up light on her last rock, leaving Englot what amounted to a routine hit for four.

Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville has her team on the verge of a playoff spot. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

“We were fortunate in the first end that I had a second chance to make the shot for four,” said Englot, who is backed by vice-skip Kate Cameron, second Leslie Wilson, lead Raunora Westcott, alternate Krysten Karwacki and coach Ron Westcott. “From there we just wanted to keep counting when we had hammer and make sure we didn’t give up any steals and get into any trouble.” Homan got two back in the second, but’s that as close as she got. Englot pointed out that a loss to Homan could have dropped her into a possible tie in the standings with Carey. In that scenario, Carey would have finished second since she defeated Englot in their round-round game. It would have meant Englot being pushed to the Page 3-4 game. Englot said having the hammer against Homan will be important in their playoff game. “We started out with hammer today, took advantage of it and I hope we can do the same tomorrow.” Homan said her final-rock draw that came up short of the rings on the first end was the story of the game. Had Homan hit the full 12-foot, Englot would have scored two at the most. Homan said the ice gave her problems, but was anxious for the rematch. “The ice isn’t great right now and they are working on it and it’s getting better,” Homan said. “We have to come out guns ablazing tomorrow and do more of the same from this week. We should be better tomorrow. We’ll get all the humidity out (of the building) and it will be a good game tomorrow.” Homan was happy with the way her team played during the round-robin. “We had an awesome round-robin. I’m super proud of the girls. We’re in the 1-2, exactly where we want to be. We’re pretty excited and proud of our performance this week.” The final round-robin draw will be played at 9:30 a.m. ET. If a tiebreaker is needed, it will be played at 2:30 p.m. The Northwest Territories (5-5), Prince Edward Island’s Robyn MacPhee (2-8; Charlottetown), Newfoundland and Labrador’s Stacie Curtis (4-6; St. John’s) and Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink (5-5; Okotoks) had the byes Thursday night. TSN/RDS2, the official broadcaster of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, is providing extensive coverage of the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

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