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Northern Ontario continues building momentum at the Scotties

Tracy Fleury’s clutch draw to the edge of the button for a single in the ninth end stemmed a momentum shift and carried her Northern Ontario team to a vital 7-4 win over Sherry Anderson of Saskatchewan Tuesday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The 31-year-old Fleury and teammates third Crystal Webster, second Jenn Wylie, lead Amanda Gates, alternate Jenna Walsh and coach Andrea Ronnebeck had built a 6-2 lead after six ends, but gave up singles in the seventh and eighth and were in danger of giving up another in nine.

Anderson had made a nearly perfect draw around cover to the left edge of the button. But Fleury came down the right side and got the point after a measurement.

“A pretty impressive shot,” Webster said of her skip’s clutch draw. “The amazing thing is Tracy had an absolutely incredible game, so I knew she would be really, really close. Getting the line call on that was so precise because you needed a side of the pin to get the point.

“We were letting the lead slip away a bit, so it was a really big point to finish off that game.”

The win improved Northern Ontario’s record to 3-2 as they continued to improve after starting the tournament with two straight losses.

“We’re got a bit of momentum going and hopefully we can keep building on it,” said Webster. “To sit at 0-2 is a little bit scary with this format because your back gets up against the wall pretty quickly.”

It’s now the 54-year-old Anderson and her youthful teammates – 23-year-old sisters Kourtney (third) and Krista (second) Fesser, lead Karlee Korchinski, 22, alternate Kim Schneider and coach Rick Folk — with their backs against the wall. At 2-3 going into the final two games of the initial set of round-robin games, the Saskatoon foursome is in a logjam with teams battling to finish in the top four in Pool A to advance to the Championship Pool.

“We got outcurled (early) and then we started curling well, but we were already three down,” said Anderson. “You can’t spot these teams a three-point lead at the half and expect to win.”

Jennifer Jones and Shannon Birchard share a laugh during Tuesday’s win over New Brunswick. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

In other Tuesday afternoon games, Jennifer Jones of Manitoba (5-0; Winnipeg) had their first real challenge of the week but used three deuces to finally subdue Sylvie Robichaud of New Brunswick (2-3; Moncton) 7-4, Kerri Einarson and Team Wild Card (4-1; East St. Paul, Man.) scored three in the first end and stole two in the second en route to a 10-3 win over Chelsea Duncan of Yukon (0-5; Whitehorse) and Mary-Anne Arsenault of Nova Scotia (3-2; Dartmouth) scored two in the 10th to nip Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories (1-4; Yellowknife) 9-8.

For Jones, a five-time Scotties champion, it was the first time all week she failed to score in double digit and had to play into the ninth and 10th ends.

“It’s certainly not a bad thing,” second Jill Officer said of having a bit of a challenging game. “It was nice to be out there for the duration of a game, make sure the ice was staying consistent. So it’s never a bad thing to be out there for the whole time.”

The 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts continues with an evening draw today at 7 p.m. PST.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Go to www.tsn.ca/2017-18-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.593081 for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, go to www.curling.ca/2018scotties/tickets/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2018scotties/category/nouvelles/?lang=fr