Tiebreakers needed for two spots
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/02/2020 (1018 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Right from the start this Scotties has felt a little wild, a little electric. A little bit like anything could happen: there weren’t many blowouts. The top seeds were frequently challenged. Some of them soared, or simply found a way to survive, and in the end that’s all that really matters.
Now, of the 16 teams that started the week, only eight will still be on the maple leaf chase at the Canadian women’s curling championship. That includes the big guns, tho ones who came in with high expectations: Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson, Ontario’s Rachel Homan and Team Wild Card skip Jennifer Jones. All three advance to the next phase of competition with 6-1 records at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
There are the teams that will push them. Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville isn’t as famous a name as the others, but she’s one of the game’s most elite thinkers and shooters; she shot a perfect 100 per cent against Team Alberta on Wednesday morning, then came back to clinch her 5-2 finish by beating Saskatchewan.
“We’re happy to be here,” a beaming McCarville said, moments after the 4-3 extra-end win. “We want to be in this championship round. We want to play these great teams, because that’s what our team has been working for this whole year. We play for the Scotties, we practise, and this is where we want to be.”
There is Suzanne Birt, the savvy skip from Prince Edward Island. She is a two-time Canadian junior champion and has one world junior title on her curling resumé. She doesn’t play on TV every week during the season. But she’s been giant-killer enough times at a Scotties, and at 5-2 on the week she’s gunning to do it again.
Finally, there is defending Canadian champ Chelsea Carey, who skidded into third place in her pool after losing to New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford in the last round-robin draw. She’s one of three teams in her pool at 4-3 on the week, but by virtue of better pre-game draws to the button was able to avoid going into a tiebreaker.
That leaves two last championship round spots to be decided in Thursday morning tiebreakers, as 4-3 teams duke it out for their last chance to move on.
In Pool A, home crowd darling Robyn Silvernagle will face off with New Brunswick’s Crawford, who has had some great dark horse performances this week. In Pool B, a rematch of Wednesday afternoon’s round-robin closer, as Nova Scotia veteran Mary-Anne Arsenault goes up against Team BC rookie Corryn Brown.
Once the whole field is figured out, there will be two draws each day on Thursday and Friday, set for 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. When it’s all over, the four teams with the best overall records will lock up one of Saturday’s Page playoff spots.
One of the challenges of the championship pool format is that, while there’s so much focus on making the cut, it matters even more how you do it. If you go in with three losses, you basically have to win out against four tough opponents; if you go in with just one loss, you have some breathing room.
Jones knows that all too well. Last year she struggled in the round robin, and squeaked into the championship pool with a 4-3 record. She beat Carey to open the round, but fell in consecutive games to Homan and McCarville; when she beat Team BC to become the winningest Scotties skip of all time, she was out of playoff contention.
So this time around, riding a record matched with the other top teams, she can breathe a little easier. Her games to get to a 6-1 record weren’t always pretty, but she did pull out a few big game-saving shots when they needed.
“It’s way less stressful, for sure,” she said. “We have a little bit of wiggle room. I feel like we’re playing well. We’re making some big shots when we have to, some good draws, we feel good with the speed. All in all, we just have to go in and try to be a little bit sharper as the week goes on.”
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Thursday, February 20, 2020 6:15 AM CST: Updates with writethrough