Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wonders never cease

Surprise, surprise... Jones back in provincial final

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STONEWALL -- If news is the unexpected -- man bites dog, Lindsay Lohan drives sober -- then you will not find much in the way of news in this piece of sports journalism.


Because there are few things in this province more predictable then the following sentence -- Jennifer Jones will play Sunday afternoon in the final of the Manitoba women's curling championship.

Seven times since 2001 Jennifer Jones has played in a provincial final -- it'd be more, but lots of years she hasn't had to play because she had an automatic bye to the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts as Team Canada.

And in those seven finals appearances, Jones has won five -- including the last four. All of which is to say, it'd be news today if anyone other than Jones wins the final.

After advancing to yet another final Saturday night, Jones said whatever advantage her team might have in finals comes down to attitude.

"I think we just love to play, and win or lose, the sun will come up tomorrow. Yeah, we want to win, but it's not the end of the world if we lose. So we leave it all out there and hopefully it goes our way."

It sure did Saturday night. Playing in the 1 vs. 1 game against Colleen Kilgallen after both teams finished first overall in their round-robins, Jones grabbed a chance to advance straight to today's final (5 p.m., Sportsnet One) like a pitbull and never let go in what went into the books as an 11-2 throttling of Kilgallen in eight merciless ends.

If it was a fight, they'd have stopped it after Jones went up 4-0 in the second end against the overmatched Pinawa team.

But this one was on national TV and so Kilgallen had to endure a minimum of eight ends of abuse before she could finally retreat to the locker-room and lick her wounds in preparation for today's semifinal (noon, Sportsnet One) against Barb Spencer.

"That was rough," said Kilgallen. "I was obviously expecting for them to play great. And they didn't disappoint."

Spencer advanced to today in dramatic fashion with an 8-5 upset of second seed Chelsea Carey in the Page playoff 2 vs. 2 game last night. With the game tied 5-5 and Carey lying shot and looking like she was about to steal, Spencer authored a magnificent raise double-takeout for a three-ender that few saw coming, including Carey.

Carey explained afterward that in retrospect, she should have guarded her shot stone with her final rock of the end, but felt rushed by a dwindling time clock.

"She made a great shot, but we made the wrong call," said Carey. "We were a little worried about our clock and I wanted to come back down and look at it again, and Kristy (McDonald) wanted to talk about it again. I said, 'I don't think we have time for that' and so I just threw it.

"And it was the wrong call. If I throw a guard there, they get one."

Spencer lost last year's semifinal to Jones, but has the historical advantage against her in the Manitoba final, having won the only matchup between the two skips in a provincial women's final back in 2003.

Spencer was asked if she has the team to close the deal today with a shark like Jones still in the water waiting for the semifinal winner. "I don't know -- it's tough," said Spencer. "Jennifer Jones is a tough team and we're just going to have to come out and play our best."

-- -- --

The Manitoba Curling Media Association announced the all-star team for this year's Scotties prior to Saturday night's Page playoff games.

Jennifer Jones lead Dawn Askin and second Jill Officer were named all-stars, as was Chelsea Carey third Kristy McDonald and skip Colleen Kilgallen.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2013 B6

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