Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who says nobody's perfect?

Manitoba finishes 11-0 in Kingston

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KINGSTON, ONT. -- In a game that is better than most at laying bare human frailties, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones has achieved the rarest of accomplishments at the Canadian women's curling championship -- perfection.

With a pair of wins on Friday -- 7-6 over New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford on the afternoon draw and then 8-4 over Saskatchewan's Jill Shumay at night -- Jones and the rest of her Winnipeg team finished the 2013 Scotties Tournament of Hearts round robin a perfect 11-0.

It's the first time a time a team has gone undefeated in the Scotties round robin since Linda Moore's B.C. squad did it back in 1985 -- and the first time ever that a team has done it since the field was expanded to 12 teams in 1986.

All of which will be a nice story for Jones and her team -- third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin -- to tell their kids someday.

But no sooner did a triumphant Jones emerge from the ice Friday night than all the focus shifted from what she'd done in the round robin to the more important work still in front of her tonight when she faces Ontario's Rachel Homan in the Page playoff 1 vs. 2 game.

"It was kind of fun. We had a great round robin and went through undefeated, which is nice," said Jones. "But it really comes down to the playoffs now. I will say it was a neat experience to do that, but now we have to focus on the playoffs."

And focus on Homan. With a pair of wins of her own on Friday, Homan finished 10-1 -- the only blemish a loss to Manitoba on Thursday morning.

And so now the two teams will face each other again -- only this time the stakes are the winner advancing straight to Sunday night's final, while the loser will get a second chance in Sunday morning's semifinal against the winner of this afternoon's 3 vs. 4 game between B.C.'s Kelly Scott (8-3) and defending champion Heather Nedohin (7-4).

Scott and Nedohin are two teams going in very different directions at this event. Nedohin has lost her last two games and four of her last five after opening at 6-0, while Scott has won five straight after opening at 3-3 and is hotter than anyone right now with the exception of Jones.

And, man, is Jones hot. When you add her team's 8-1 performance in Stonewall last month in winning the Manitoba provincials, Jones is 19-1 in her last 20 games.

Homan, however, has her own remarkable streak going -- a record of 33-1 in her last 34 games. And the 23-year-old has a large and boisterous home crowd cheering her on -- her team is based in Ottawa, just a two-hour drive away, and her supporters filled the K-Rock Centre Friday night to near capacity.

What effect all the attention and hot lights this weekend will have on Homan remains to be seen. All the focus on her right now would seem to be outside the comfort zone of a curler who is very unemotional and does not appear entirely comfortable with the attention.

But Homan insists otherwise. "I love it. I love having fun with my team and fun with the fans and that," she said. "I don't think you need to put on a show. I'm not one for the dramatics."

She could have fooled a delighted crowd Friday night, however, as she dramatically drew the button with her final rock to secure a 6-5 win over Nedohin.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2013 C1

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