By Matthew Abrey
Special to the Penticton Western News
Jennifer Jones and Team Manitoba will play for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women’s curling title on Sunday after defeating the Wild Card team in the Page Playoff 1-2 game.
The Wild Card team, skipped by Kerri Einarson (also from Manitoba), got on the board first with two in the second end, but it was Jones who had a perfect 10th end, scoring two, that gave her the 9-7 win. Jones put Manitoba in the four foot where she already had the shot rock and forced Einarson to attempt a difficult double takeout that failed.
If Jones wins in the final she will tie the record for most Scotties Tournament of Hearts title wins, six, currently held by Colleen Jones.
Einarson will play Mary-Anne Arsenault of Nova Scotia in the Sunday semifinal at 9 a.m. Arsenault is also in the hunt to tie the record, having already won five championships.
Mary-Anne Arsenault and her Nova Scotia rink just keep on winning at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Penticton.
The Dartmouth-based rink brought down Tracy Fleury and Team Northern Ontario by a 6-2 score, winning their staggering ninth match in a row, earning a berth in Sunday’s semifinal.
“It was so nice to put a really good game together,” said Arsenault, who has played in the Scotties 13 times. “I’m so proud of my girls. They played awesome and anytime we were in a little bit of trouble, (they) would make a double and we were back.”
Arsenault blanked the first three ends keeping the hammer for the fourth where she opened the scoring. She managed to expertly draw around the high-sitting guards with her final two stones to lay two, giving her Nova Scotia rink a 2-0 lead going into the fifth end.
Fleury earned one back in the fifth by picking and rolling across the inner blue rings to lay one, cutting Arsenault’s lead to 2-1.
Arsenault fired right back making a pair of tight draws into the inner rings through a cluttered upper house to lay three in the sixth end — extending her lead to 5-1.
Fleury blanked the seventh, then drew to the button in the eighth to cut into Arsenault’s lead. However, her Nova Scotia rink still found themselves down 5-2 heading into the ninth end.
The ninth end featured a jam-up heading into skips’ final shots. Fleury cleared the jam-up with her last stone of the end, but Arsenault hit and stuck her hammer shot to further pad her lead at 6-2.
The teams decided to play the 10th end, even though Arsenault had a sizeable lead, but did not play the entire length. They shook hands with four rocks remaining after Northern Ontario couldn’t keep enough stones in the house to justify finishing the end.
“We would have liked to have played better,” said Fleury, whose rink went 8-3 in tournament play. “But Nova Scotia played amazing and we just had some key misses. They played well and put a lot of pressure on us.”
Arsenault is now two wins away from giving Team Nova Scotia its first Scotties Tournament of Hearts national title in 14 years. Nova Scotia will play the loser of Saturday night’s Page Playoff, between Manitoba and Team Wild Card, in the semifinal at 9 a.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre to determine who will move on to the final. The winner of the Saturday night 7 p.m. draw will move directly to the final, which takes place at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The HeartStop Lounge, located at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, will feature the final on one of their giant-screen TV’s on Sunday, the other will be playing the Super Bowl. Tickets are not required to take in the action at the HeartStop Lounge.
For ticket information for the rest of the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts draws, go to www.curling.ca/2018scotties/tickets/.
The 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts All-Star teams were also released, and are presented as follows:
Skip – Jennifer Jones
Third – Cary-Anne McTaggart
Second – Jill Officer – Manitoba
Lead – Dawn McEwen – Manitoba
Skip – Tracy Fleury – Northern Ontario
Third – Shannon Birchard – Manitoba
Second – Jessie Scheidegger – Alberta
Lead – Ranoura Westcott – Team Canada
And at the fifth end break, Team Saskatchewan skip, Sherri Anderson, was presented with the Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award, which honours the player that most exemplified sportsmanship and dedication to curling throughout the tournament.