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This article was published 28/2/2009 (3063 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
VICTORIA -- B.C.'s Marla Mallett opened the back door a crack Thursday night and Team Canada snuck inside the playoff party.
They've been trashing the joint ever since. They've already knocked over the kitchen table, spilled red wine on the carpet and made a heck of a mess behind the couch.
And now that they've broken the hearts of P.E.I., Saskatchewan and Quebec in succession, all that's left for Jennifer Jones and her group of party-crashers tonight is to knock out the host, who is already surely regretting ever letting them inside.
History will record that Mallett had a chance to dispense with a stumbling Team Canada once and for all during the final round-robin draw Thursday night. Canada was vulnerable at the time, having lost four of its last five games, and a loss to B.C. would have meant elimination.
But Jones did against B.C. what Jones does best in all the big games, making a last-rock draw for a 6-5 win to earn a spot in a tiebreaker game. And that was all this remarkable Canadian foursome needed to find new life.
And so it is that Jones will go into tonight's Canadian women's curling final (7 p.m., TSN) as the overwhelming favourite to repeat as national champion, despite the fact B.C. finished first in the round robin, had the bye to the final after a win in Friday's 1 vs. 2 game and will have the local crowd fully behind them tonight.
Last year the Jones team became just the second team in the history of this event to win a Canadian championship through the tiebreakers. Having already won four must-win games in a row this year -- over B.C., over P.E.I. Friday in the tiebreaker game and then 8-6 over Saskatchewan in the 3 vs. 4 game Saturday afternoon and 12-8 over Quebec in the semifinal last night -- Jones and company need just one more win over B.C. today to also become the third team to do it.
You could almost see Jones rubbing her hands together Saturday after grinding out a win over a Quebec team that had chances but failed to exploit them. "This is the best we've played as a team all week. It's a good feeling going into tomorrow," Jones said.
"We love it. We love playing in these big games. We're not scared of them, we love them. And we just love being out there together and enjoying the moment together."
And Jones sounded like a woman who might enjoy a win tonight over B.C. even more than most.
Jones, who along with third Cathy Overton-Clapham had a tense conversation with Mallett during that round-robin game, uncharacteristically issued what sounded like a verbal slap to the B.C. skip during the media scrum.
Mallett likes to play a wide-open game with as few rocks in play as possible -- a style Jones made clear she doesn't care for.
"We'll try to mix it up. I think that's the way curling should be played," said Jones. "But everyone is different."
For her part, Mallett said Saturday that everything so far has unfolded according to her master plan.
"We prepared for this the last three years on our program," said Mallett, who is playing in just her third Scotties, first in 11 years and first final. "All of our work has paid off and this is where we want to be."
Jones pledged one certainty in the final -- her team will, as always, leave it all on the ice.
"Hopefully, we do enough to win," she said. "And, if not, no regrets."
On the tube
Canada vs. B.C., 7 p.m. (TSN)