By Matthew Abrey
Special to the Western News
Manitoba will face off against Manitoba for Sunday night’s final at the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts after the Manitoba Wild Card team took Nova Scotia in the semifinal Sunday morning.
Team Wild Card, skipped by East St. Paul’s Kerri Einarson, held off Mary-Anne Arsenault and her Nova Scotia rink for a 12-9 victory and a date with fellow Manitoban, Jennifer Jones, in the final at 4 p.m.
“It’s pretty cool to have two Manitoba teams in the final,” said Einarsson. “We’re really looking forward to tonight’s game. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get out there.”
Arsenault said Team Nova Scotia isn’t too sore about the loss.
“We’ll look back with a lot of pride,” added Arsenault. “We fought and battled and played really well against some top teams.”
Einarson jumped out into an early lead, managing to curl around the high-sitting guards with enough weight to knock Arsenault’s yellow stone out of play, avoiding a steal and laying two.
But Team Wild Card found themselves in a bit of trouble in the second. With her last stone of the end, Einarson attempted a split takeout in which she was guaranteed to lose the shooter, in order to prevent Arsenault from laying two with her hammer shot. Instead, the stone clipped a guard, sending her shooter out of play and tapping one of Arsenault’s rocks towards the button, allowing the Nova Scotia skip to draw for an easy three.
Einarson didn’t give Team Nova Scotia time to celebrate, however, as she made an expertly executed pick-and-roll to lay three of her own and take a 5-3 lead heading into the fourth end.
Arsenault once again had an answer to Einarson’s big end, using her second-last shot of the fourth end to thread the needle through a cluttered minefield of high guards, hitting her own rock to knock Einarson’s shot stone out of the rings. The shooter stuck to sit two rocks for Nova Scotia heading into the skips’ final shots. Einarson flubbed her final shot by nicking a guard, allowing Arsenault to draw to the button to lay a third.
With Einarson sitting two heading into the skips’ final shots of the fifth end, Arsenault let go of her final rock just a hair too late, resulting in a hog line violation, and the forfeiture of her final stone. Einarson took advantage of the opportunity and managed to stick the shooter while tapping another red stone into the rings to lay four total and take a 9-6 lead.
Team Wild Card kept the pressure on in the sixth end, crowding the house, and Arsenault couldn’t quite get her final hammer shot past the guards and to the button, allowing Einarson to steal one to go up 10-6.
Arsenault and her band of Nova Scotians wouldn’t go gently into the good night, however. Already sitting one, Arsenault managed to guide her hammer shot right between two of Einarson’s guards with the precision of a seamstress, to lay two and cut Team Wild Card’s lead to 10-8.
Einarson would lay one in the eighth, and Arsenault would answer back with one of her own in the ninth, but in the end, Einarson made an easy draw to the button in the tenth end to take the 12-9 victory and earn herself a berth in the final.
“It’s just crappy that basically a hog-line violation cost us the game,” said Arsenault. “But I think we played pretty good. We had our ups and downs and we weren’t as strong up and down the lineup as we were in previous games.”
The final match of the tournament will kick-off at 4pm at the South Okanagan Events Centre and across the TSN network. Be sure to watch the Western News website and Facebook page for all Scotties Tournament of Hearts coverage.