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Jennifer Jones off to a winning start

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RED DEER, Alta. -- Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones got off to a winning start here at the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts Saturday evening, dropping New Brunswick’s Rebecca Atkinson 7-3 on the opening day of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship.

A double takeout with the final stone of the sixth end gave Jones a deuce and a 4-1 lead, but Kelly got two of her own in the seventh end and the game headed to the eighth end surprisingly tight at 4-3.

But that was as close as Kelly would get as Jones took one with the hammer in the eighth end and then stole two in the ninth end when Kelly, drawing against two, threw her final rock to the back 12-foot.

Jones led the game throughout and while the gap narrowed towards the end, the final outcome never really seemed to be in doubt as the four-time Canadian champion skip curled 91 per cent and her team 86 per cent to open with a win.

"I thought we actually came out and played pretty well," said Jones. "We’re getting used to the ice, but I thought we figured out the ice really well and controlled the game from the first end, which is a great start for us...

"It’s a long week, but you just want to get as many wins as you can. Winning your first one is nice, but it’s not mandatory."

Jones third Kaitlyn Lawes is curling in her second Scotties after a remarkable rookie debut in Charlottetown in 2011 during which she led all thirds with an 81 percent shooting percentage and earned the all-star nod at her position.

Lawes shot 85 percent in her 2012 debut on Saturday, after finishing fourth earlier in the day in the pre-event individual skills competition.

"It’s nice to have playing here once before under my belt," Lawes said Saturday night. "Experience can only help you in the long run.

"But they’re both very special to me. My first Scotties was amazing and blew my expectations away. And being here a second time, I’m just thrilled and honoured.

Jones lead Dawn Askin was removed from the game in the 10th end to give longtime alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire an opportunity to play.

The Jones foursome heads into two games on Sunday as one of five teams with a 1-0 record, joined by BC, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Team Canada.

Saskatchewan’s Michelle Englot authored the comeback of the day against Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey Saturday night. Down 5-2 to Smith-Dacey in the seventh end, Englot took two with the hammer and then stole the eighth, ninth and tenth ends in succession to escape with a 7-5 victory.

"It’s nice to win ones like that," said Englot. "Hopefully we can build on the momentum. We battled back in that game, a lot of good draw shots."

The Jones foursome plays on this morning’s draw against PEI’s Kim Dolan, who is 1-1 after a loss to Ontario’s Tracy Horgan on the opening draw followed by a win over NWT/Yukon’s Kerry Galusha last night.

Jones will then come right back out for the afternoon draw today against the local favourites, Alberta’s Heather Nedohin.

Nedohin will be hungry for a victory after being stunned on the opening draw 8-7 in an extra end by NWT/Yukon’s Galusha.

Jones and second Jill Officer are seeking to join a very exclusive club of curlers here this week. The two women are four-time winners of the Scotties and with another championship this week would join just five other five-time champions -- Nova Scotia’s Mary-Anne Arsenault, Kim Kelly and Nancy Delahunt, Saskatchewan’s Joyce McKee and former Jones teammate, Cathy Overton-Clapham.

Nova Scotia’s Colleen Jones will remain the winningest female skip in Canadian history regardless of what Jones does this week. Colleen Jones has six Canadian women’s titles.

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