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Canada advances to final of Ford World Women’s Curling Championship

NORTH BAY, Ont. – A capacity crowd in the North Bay Memorial Gardens was ready to party, singing before the game began, but then sat nervously through the final five ends before Jennifer Jones’s final rock in the 10th gave Canada a hard-fought 9-7 win over Jamie Sinclair of the U.S. The win sends Canada into the gold-medal game of the 2018 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship.

Canada had built a 5-1 lead after three ends and led 6-3 after five. But the young U.S. team scored two in the sixth and then pressured Canada through the final half of the game, getting two more in the eighth and stealing one in nine to tie the game 7-7.

“It was a grind,” Jones agreed afterwards. “It’s really hard to get a lead and try to maintain that lead. Unfortunately, I missed a couple of draws that I would like back, but live and learn.  We’ll learn from those and be better tomorrow.

“We knew even with the early lead there was a lots of game left. I wish I could have a couple of those draws back. I threw what I wanted to throw and we guessed wrong. We’ll have to guess right tomorrow.”

Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen, alternate Shannon Birchard and coaches Wendy Morgan and Elaine Dagg-Jackson now play Olympic champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden in Sunday’s final at 3 p.m. ET.

Hasselborg and her Swedish teammates advanced to the final with a 7-6 win over Victoria Moiseeva of Russia in the earlier semifinal. They are seeking a rare Olympic-world championship double — last accomplished in 2006 by fellow Swede Anette Norberg.

Moiseeva and Sinclair will play for the bronze medal at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Canada finished the round robin unbeaten at 12-0 to finish first, which earned the Canadians last rock to begin the semifinal and they didn’t waste it, scoring three in the first end. U.S. third Alex Carlson rubbed a Canadian guard with her second take-out attempt, raising it into the house to open the door for Jones and Co.

Canadian skip Jennifer Jones calls to her sweepers. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

A last-rock double by Jones forced Sinclair to hit and stick with her final stone facing five Canadian counters, to take one in the second. Canada added two in the third and the teams traded singles in the fourth and fifth before the U.S. got their first deuce in sixth.

Sinclair, who played her bantam and junior years in Ontario, made a tight raised split double to cut Canada’s lead to 6-4. Then the U.S. strategy changed.

“In one of our end meetings we said if we’re going to go down, we’re going down in flames,” said Sinclair. “So it was kind of, we just had to give it, all the rocks in play, try to generate as much offence as we could. It was a little bit scary but that’s what we decided to do.”

It almost worked as the Americans kept up the pressure, forcing Canada to take a single in seven and silenced the crowd by scoring two in the eighth to pull within a point. When Jones, who was successful on just 40 per cent of her draws to this point, tried a come-around tap back and couldn’t get the U.S. counter out, Sinclair stole one to tie the game after nine ends.

“I never felt we were totally losing control of the game, but they were making some good shots for sure,” said Jones. “

Canada refused to let the U.S. set guards in the 10th, thanks mainly to two perfect tick shots from McEwen, keeping the house clean until skip rocks and setting the stage for Jones’s winning shot.

“We were going for the steal, but it’s hard to steal when the other team makes two perfect ticks,” said Sinclair.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Ford World Women’s are available at www.worldcurling.org/wwcc2018/livescores

TSN and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of Canada’s games at the 2018 Ford World Women’s. Go to www.tsn.ca/2017-18-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.593081 for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2018 Ford World Women’s, go to www.curling.ca/2018worldwomen/tickets/

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