Instant Chemistry!

Team Jones (from left, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine, Mackenzie Zacharias, Karlee Burgess and Jennifer Jones) celebrates its victory with PointsBet Canada Chief Executive Officer Scott Vanderwel, left, and Chief Commercial Officer, Nic Sulsky. (Photo, Curling Canada/Danielle Inglis)

Team Jones claims inaugural women’s PointsBet Invitational title

To win the 2022 PointsBet Invitational, teams must string together four wins in a row. That feat was no problem for women’s champion Team Jennifer Jones; its winning streak goes beyond the event held at Willie O’Ree Place in Fredericton.

On Sunday, No. 5 seeded Team Jones (Winnipeg/Altona, Man.) extended its winning streak to 12 games after defeating No. 6 seed Team Casey Scheidegger (Lethbridge, Alta.) 7-4 in the women’s final at the PointsBet Invitational. With the win, Jones, third Karlee Burgess, second/vice-skip Mackenzie Zacharias, lead Lauren Lenentine and alternate Emily Zacharias pocketed a $50,000 payday for winning the event.

“We felt [chemistry] instantly, and I wasn’t sure because they were already an existing team, and I’m just a couple of years older than them, so I wasn’t sure how that would all work,” the veteran skip Jones joked. “But I honestly feel like it’s so easy. They’re easy to be around, and I feel like we’ve just become one united team, which is crazy because it’s only September.”

Team Jones jumped to an early lead with a score of two in the second. In the third end, Team Jones played a stellar team shot, a freeze on its own stone, and forced Team Scheidegger, led by fill-in skip Kristie Moore, into a draw against four. Moore, vice-skip Kate Hogan, second Jessie Haughian and lead Taylor McDonald got their shot to the four-foot to take one point.

The Albertan-based foursome kept the pressure on Team Jones in the fourth end but opted for a defensive hit-and-roll double-takeout which was nosed. That chain of events led to an open hit for two by Team Jones and a 4-1 lead. 

The seasoned skip maintained control of the game from that point on. Moore was forced to one in the fifth by taking a single point with a draw to the eight-foot. In the sixth, Team Scheidegger looked to be stringing together a productive end, but Jones flipped the script and turned it into a point for herself. Team Jones forced Team Scheidegger to one point in the seventh and scored another deuce in the eighth. 

But Moore wasn’t going down without a fight. In the ninth, the skip made a perfect draw to the side of the button against two for a score of one. Despite scoring, Team Scheidegger conceded, paving the way for the Team Jones win.

“They made a lot of great shots and I just didn’t finish in a couple of ends, most definitely. In the past couple of games, I got opportunities later. But Jen just didn’t let us get back in there,” Moore said. 

Team Jones’s winning streak dates back to Sept. 9 at the Saville Shoot-Out tour event in Edmonton. The team won all five round-robin games and worked its way through three playoff wins, defeating Team Rachel Homan of Ottawa in the final.

Kristie Moore watches her shot during Sunday’s women’s final of the 2022 PointsBet Invitational. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

It’s been a magical season for Team Jones so far in 2022. Jones, an Olympic gold-medallist, two-time world women’s champion and six-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner, joined the 2020 world and Canadian junior women’s champions in Team Zacharias this offseason. The team opted to play early and often to gain familiarity with each other. It turns out the chemistry is “off the charts,” according to second/vice-skip Zacharias.

“She’s been such a great leader for our team and we’re so privileged to have a chance to play with her. We’re all just having fun out there as well, which is the icing on top of the cake,” Zacharias said.

Zacharias moved from her traditional skip position to second while calling line for Jones as vice-skip. It was a big transition for the 23-year-old and one she is still adjusting to, but the early results are more than promising.

“I’ve had a couple of tournaments now to kind of figure it out. There wasn’t a whole lot that’s changed, but sweeping was probably the biggest thing for me. I hadn’t really swept before, but I’m on a team with some amazing sweepers. They were able to give me some good pointers, and we’ve had a few people come out and teach me as well,” Zacharias said. 

The 2022 PointsBet Invitational continues today with the men’s final between Team Matt Dunstone (Winnipeg) and Team Reid Carruthers (Morris, Man.) at 3:30 p.m. Atlantic.

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