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Ontario, Manitoba, Wild Card carry three-way tie for first into Scotties action Friday

Saskatchewan drops to 5-4, still in playoff hunt heading into final two championship pool games

As anyone who has come through the ‘C’ side of a bonspiel can tell you, curling three games a day can be absolute murder.

Doing so on five hours of sleep? Against some of the best teams in the world at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts? And still managing to come away with a 2-1 record?

Not bad at all, Team Saskatchewan.

Robyn Silvernagle, third Stefanie Lawton, second Jessie Hunkin and lead Kara Thevenot dropped an 8-3 eight-end decision to Wild Card’s Jennifer Jones in the championship pool night draw on Thursday at Mosaic Place, capping a day that saw the North Battleford rink win a tiebreaker and their first pool game before taking the loss.

“That was a very long day and Jen’s team came out playing really, really well and we just got caught a little on the ice,” Silvernagle said. “Your third game of the day you’re definitely going to have mental and physical fatigue and Jen probably had that edge on us having only one game, so they had lots of extra rest. And they came out firing.”

Silvernagle still managed to hang with Jones for six ends, picking up a deuce in six to tie the game 3-3 at that point. Jones would put up a three-spot the very next end, though and a steal of two in eight brought things to an early end.

While Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Dawn McEwen could have come into the contest relaxed knowing Saskatchewan was a tired team, they were having none of it.

“It’s hard, but it’s also a lot of adrenaline and they’re the hometown team with the crowd and you kind of get a boost from that, so we didn’t want to rely on them being tired at all,” Jones said.

Silvernagle dropped to 5-4 and fifth place with the loss, but is still very much in the hunt after Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville split their two games and sit at 6-3 (see below), meaning two wins Friday and all sorts of interesting things could happen.

“Absolutely, just go play fearless,” Silvernagle said. “We have nothing to lose, so go out and play and come back and play as well as we can.”

Jones, meanwhile, improved to 8-1 and clinched a playoff spot while sitting in a three-way tie for first with Ontario’s Rachel Homan and Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson.

“It’s almost like you feel like everything is sudden death and you have to go out and play well tomorrow and in every game the rest of the way,” Jones said. “At the end of the day we just want to make the final four, so we want to come out and play well tomorrow and into the next round.”

It comes as no surprise to find Homan at the top of the Scotties standings regardless of the format – but with how things are going for herself, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle, there’s no question they’re in seriously good form at this point in the tournament.

Homan scored three in the fifth end to build a 5-3 lead against Team Canada’s Chelsea Carey, tacked on a deuce in eight to go up 7-4 and stole one in nine to finish off an 8-4 win.

That moved Homan to 8-1 and the aforementioned three-way tie for first.

“It was a big day for us, we were happy to get two wins and it’s another big day for us tomorrow,” Homan said. “We know the games are going to be tough and the more wins we get the better.”

With her crew continuing to rack up wins, including two commanding victories Thursday, Homan feels her team is near to where they need to be.

“Pretty close, yeah,” she said. “I’d like my first one back in the last end, but it’s been pretty good. The ice is good, the icemakers have been doing a great job, it’s been consistent and we’re really thankful for that.”

Even with a playoff spot locked down, Homan will be looking to keep things moving forward through their games Friday.

“I feel like we wouldn’t be happy just coming out and playing and ending up in the 3-4, that’s not where we want to be at all,” she said. “So we just want to give it our all and win those last two games and set ourselves up as best we can.”

Carey, third Sarah Wilkes, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown fell to 4-5 and will need to win out and find all sorts of help to force a tiebreaker.

Einarson finds herself in much the same situation as Ontario: a winning run that shows no signs of abating, steady and consistent play from her entire rink and yes, the 8-1 record and a playoff spot.

The difference is, if it wasn’t for a seven-ender against New Brunswick early in the week, Einarson would very likely be 9-0 right now. No matter, though, since she’s been lights out ever since.

“What seven?” she asked with a laugh when asked about the blemish. “That’s how we looked at it, we don’t look at that as a thing, we just threw it in the bag, tossed it away and we’re rolling along since…  It feels good to come out with two solid games today, the team played really well. We have two big ones tomorrow and we want to keep things going.”

Einarson closed out another perfect day with a 9-4 win over Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt, third Marie Christianson, second Meaghan Hughes and lead Michelle McQuaid in the evening draw, scoring three in the first end and just rolling from there while holding Birt to no more than one in any end.

Birt fell to 5-4 and is tied with Silvernagle for fifth.

Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville prevented the craziest of situations in a pretty crazy Scotties with a 7-6 extra-end win over B.C.’s Corryn Brown.

Had Brown managed to steal one in the 11th, there would have been a four-way tie at 5-4 for the fourth and final playoff berth. Instead, the win moved McCarville, third Kendra Lilly, second Ashley Sippala and lead Jennifer Gates to 6-3 and sole possession of fourth.

Brown, third Erin Pincott, second Dezaray Hawes and lead Ashley Klymchuk – the youngest team in the Scotties draw -- fell to 4-5.

The afternoon draw on Friday will feature Manitoba taking on Wild Card, B.C. against Canada, P.E.I. against Northern Ontario and Ontario facing Saskatchewan.

Things close out in the evening with the contest that will likely determine first place in the pool as Ontario takes on Manitoba, Saskatchewan faces B.C., Northern Ontario dues Wild Card and Canada battles P.E.I.