Homan tops Jones in marquee match of Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings

OTTAWA — It was billed as the marquee matchup even before the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings began seven days ago, and in a preview of Saturday’s women’s semifinal, hometown favourite Rachel Homan beat Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg 9-4 Friday evening. It has become a tale of two teams doing in different directions. Since losing their first game, Team Homan has run off seven straight victories. Team Jones, the defending champions and reigning Olympic gold-medallists, began with five consecutive wins but has now lost three straight games. “Our team is playing phenomenal, jelling together on the ice,” Homan said after the win. “This is an experience I’ll never forget (playing at home); it’s something you can’t anticipate coming in.” Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle, alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk and coach Adam Kingsbury from the Ottawa Curling Club were on the offensive early, scoring two in the first end, one in three and two more in four for a 5-1 lead. But that all but evaporated in the sixth. Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen, alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire and coach Wendy Morgan of the St. Vital Curling Club patiently built the end and forced Homan into two difficult shots, both of which she only partially made. It left Jones with a simple hit-and-stick for three to get back into the game. Miskew buried shot with her second stone in the seventh, ultimately letting Homan draw the four-foot for a deuce and a 7-4 lead. They stole two in the eight and shook hands. “We probably would have played whole game out (if it meant more), but we just both prepared as best could for tomorrow,” said Homan. Jones said she’s not concerned about the losing streak.

Brad Gushue directs sweepers Mark Nichols, left, and Geoff Walker. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“It’s all a new day tomorrow so its kind of fun to come in and play a game that doesn’t matter, and enjoy the crowd even through they weren’t for us,” said Jones. “Obviously would like a few shots back but pretty happy with how we’re throwing. and we’ll be ready for tomorrow.” The game meant nothing in the standings but the win gives Team Homan, the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts and world women’s champions, the all-important hammer, as well as choice of rock colour, for Saturday’s 2 p.m. (all times Eastern) semifinal. The winner will advance to Sunday’s 2 p.m. final against Chelsea Carey of Calgary, who went through the round-robin unbeaten at 8-0. In the one lose-and-you’re-gone game, Brendan Bottcher (4-4) of Edmonton drew the edge of the button in the 11th end to beat Reid Carruthers (4-4-) 8-7 and knock the Winnipeg foursome out of a possible tiebreaker game. Team Bottcher had been eliminated early in the day when it lost 6-4 to Mike McEwen (5-3) of Winnipeg. Brad Gushue of St. John’s (6-2) stole singles in the sixth, seventh and ninth ends for a 6-3 win over previously unbeaten Kevin Koe (7-1) of Calgary. The result meant little to Team Koe but it was important for Team Gushue because the win gives them last rock in their opening end of their semifinal match Saturday at 7 p.m. against Team McEwen. In the other game Friday, Alli Flaxey (1-7) of Toronto got her first win of the tournament, 9-3 over Julie Tippin (2-6) of Woodstock, Ont. Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/ TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule For ticket information for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, CLICK HERE. This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2017roaroftherings/?lang=fr