Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Backs against the wall

Jones's Team Canada must win tiebreaker, but this crew has reason for their confidence

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VICTORIA -- They've clawed their way into the playoffs by their fingernails. They cannot afford another loss. Their backs are firmly planted against the wall.

In other words, Team Canada's Jennifer Jones has the field right where she wants it heading into the playoffs today at the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Sure, they've lost four of their last six games. Sure, the skip has been something less than a portrait of confidence the last few games. And sure, they're still not technically in the Page playoffs today because they'll first need to play a playoff tiebreaker game against P.E.I. (3 p.m., TSN) this afternoon just to advance to those playoffs.

But it bears reminding that this is a Jones team that rode adversity all the way to a Canadian championship last year, winning eight games in a row at this event -- including, yes, one of those tiebreaker games -- to claim the Canadian crown.

So if you were expecting anything less than quiet confidence from the Jones team Thursday after they advanced to today's tiebreaker with a thrilling last-rock 6-5 victory over B.C., you were talking to the wrong women.

"I thought we needed to come out better tonight and I thought we were," Jones said.

"We're still alive and that's all we could ask for."

Canada second Jill Officer felt her team saved one of its best games for last, bouncing back for the win over B.C. after an 8-7 extra-end loss to P.E.I. earlier in the day put them in the must-win situation.

"We played well. We put the pressure on them," Officer said. "It's a new bonspiel now that we're in the playoffs.

"Obviously, we've been in this position before. Hopefully, we can play like we did tonight."

Canada controlled the play against B.C. Thursday night but Jones still needed to draw the eight-foot with the last rock of the game to avoid elimination. Officer and Canada lead Dawn Askin dragged Jones's rock to a bite of the four-foot.

The loss was the second of the day for B.C., which lost just once prior to Thursday. They finished with an 8-3 record and will face Quebec in tonight's Page playoff 1 vs. 2 game (8:30 p.m., TSN). The winner advances straight to Sunday's final while the loser will get another chance in Saturday night's semifinal.

Saskatchewan claimed third place and will await the winner of Canada-P.E.I. in the Page playoff 3 vs. 4 game earlier Saturday. The winner of that game advances to the semifinal and the loser is eliminated.

Meanwhile, Manitoba's Barb Spencer now has the unfortunate designation as the losingest Manitoba team, men's or women's, in Canadian curling championship history.

With a pair of losses Thursday -- 9-4 to Quebec and 7-5 to Saskatchewan -- Spencer's foursome finished the round-robin tied for last with Nova Scotia at 2-9. The previous worst record for a Manitoba women's team at the Scotties was 4-7 and for a Manitoba men's team at the Brier was 3-8.

Spencer also became just the tenth team in Scotties history to yield over 90 points against. In total, Manitoba had 91 points scored against them here.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

 

Standings

(after 17th draw)

Province (skip) W L

x-B.C. (Mallett) 8 3

x-Quebec (M.F.Larouche) 7 4

x-Saskatchewan (Lawton) 7 4

y-P.E.I. (R.J.MacPhee) 7 4

y-Canada (Jones) 7 4

Ontario (McCarville) 6 5

Alberta (Bernard) 6 5

N.L. (H.Strong) 5 6

New Brunswick (Kelly) 5 6

Yukon/NWT (Galusha) 4 7

Manitoba (Spencer) 2 9

Nova Scotia (McConnery) 2 9

x -- clinched Page playoff berth; y -- clinched tiebreaker

 

Thursday results

P.E.I. 8 Canada 7 (extra end)

Quebec 9 Manitoba 4

Saskatchewan 7 Manitoba 5

Canada 6 British Columbia 5

 

TODAY'S GAMES

Tiebreakers

Canada vs. P.E.I., 3 p.m.

 

Page playoff (1 vs.2)

B.C. vs. Quebec, 8:30 p.m.

 

SATURDAY GAMES

Page playoff (3 vs. 4)

Saskatchewan vs. P.E.I.-Canada winner, 1:30 p.m.

Semifinal

One-Two loser vs. Three-Four winner, 6 p.m.

 

SUNDAY GAME

Final

B.C.-Quebec winner vs. semifinal winner, 7 p.m.

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 27, 2009 C1

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