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Jones crew qualifies for Scotties Tournament of Hearts final

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Ah, there’s the rub. And there’s another ... and another.

And so, with Prince Edward Island’s rocks glancing off guards at so many crucial times Friday night, Jennifer Jones and her Team Canada crew took full advantage of the miscues — and made some dandy shots of their own —to qualify for a third straight Scotties Tournament of Hearts final.

And this time they took the shortest route possible.

Team Canada posted an 8-5 triumph over Kathy O’Rourke’s Charlottetown team in the 1 vs. 2 game of the Page playoff system, before a crowd of 2,900 at the Essar Centre, collecting a free pass to Sunday’s final.

Jones, third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin, captured the 2008 and ’09 Canadian women’s curling titles — having to go through tie-breakers and semifinals to win those — and are gunning for the three-peat.

The Scotties final is slated for Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CST).

O’Rourke, who throws second stones but calls the shots, will play in the Scotties semifinal tonight at 6 p.m. (CST), the second chance she earned for finishing atop the round-robin standings at 8-3, the same mark as Jones.

O’Rourke is joined by lead Tricia Affleck, third Geri-Lynn Ramsay and Erin Carmody, who throws last rock.

Earlier, in an afternoon tie-breaker, Ontario’s Krista McCarville cruised to a 10-3 victory over Jill Thurston’s Manitoba foursome in just seven ends.

The McCarville team from Thunder Bay faces Kelly Scott of British Columbia today at 12 p.m. (CST) in the 3 vs. 4 game. The winner faces O’Rourke tonight.

On Friday night, Team Canada was efficient with the hammer against P.E.I., scoring deuces in the third, fifth an seventh ends. In the 10th, the skipper made a nice hit-an-roll to the button to put an exclamation point on the win.

Today, they get to relax and watch the others battle it out.

"We’re pretty excited to be back in the final. It’s a great feeling right now," said Jones, who also won in 2005. "You dream of winning one and you never know if you’re going to.

Now, we’ve won three ...and to have the opportunity to win four is really quite something."

Carmody, just 21 and playing in her very first Scotties, showed some nerves for the first time this week, rubbing guards on at least four crucial shots for P.E.I.

"They just rubbed a couple of guards and so maybe if they get by it’s a little bit of a different story. But we capitalized on our opportunities and made the most of it," said Jones.

O’Rourke said her team had chances for a couple of big ends, but just couldn’t convert.

"There was an inch here or a tick there and we were always on the other side of it for that game," she said. "We tried to just enjoy the experience and, hopefully, we’d come out with a win on our side. And you know we certainly had our opportunities to do that."

Meanwhile, the Manitoba champions had a great week, but just couldn’t match Ontario’s shot execution. Thurston and third Kristen Phillips, in particular, weren’t nearly as sharp as they needed to be to propel the Winnipeg team deeper into the playoffs.

As a team, Manitoba curled 79 per cent compared to Ontario’s 85 per cent. The front end -- second Leslie Wilson and lead Raunora Westcott -- curled over 90 per cent, but Phillips and Thurston were just 59 and 68, respectively.

"You can get away with half shots at some cash ‘spiels but not at a Canadian championship," said Thurston. "We made a couple of half-shots and I made a couple of no-shots, and that’s what happens.

"I’m disappointed. It wasn’t indicative of the way we played all week. It’s disappointing to go out and be flat like that."

After a tidy first end was blanked by Ontario, things went south in a hurry in the second end for the Manitobans, who could only stand by and watch as McCarville delivered one of the greatest shots of the week.

Rolling the dice on a long, raise-takeout for a big payoff, McCarville absolutely nailed it for three to seize control.

"We just said it’s risk vs. reward. If you miss it you only give up a steal of one. But to make it there’s a huge momentum shift so early in the game," McCarville explained.

The raised red rock slid about 12 feet, barely grazed another red Ontario rock and then hit the Manitoba yellow stone on the beak.

"She made a great shot. What can you do?" said Thurston.

The Scotties final goes Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CST). The winner qualifies for the Ford world women’s championship, March 20-28 in Swift Current, Sask.


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