Jenn Hanna, Jennifer Jones Scotties reunion rocks curling memories
Scotties play begins Thursday in Grande Prairie with pre-qualifying tourney
Jenn Hanna knows what's coming.
The Ontario skip is prepared for the reminders of Jennifer Jones's final stone the last time they met at a Canadian women's curling championship.
Up two points coming home without hammer, Hanna's team from Ottawa was on the verge of a national title at the 2005 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in St. John's, N.L.
But Jones made a shot that became part of curling lore. The Manitoba skip deflected the game's final stone off a corner guard outside the rings and rolled to the button to bump out Ontario's shot stone buried behind guards. Jones scored four for the victory and her first Scotties win.
"It's probably the highest I've ever jumped," Jones says now.
That walk-off, "in-off" shot has almost two million views on YouTube. It was a shot that altered the futures of both teams.
The television replay of the shot will be back in heavy rotation during the 2016 Canadian championship starting Thursday in Grande Prairie, Alta., as Hanna returns to the Scotties for the first time since 2005.
Ontario and defending champion Jennifer Jones meet in the round robin Feb. 25 at Revolution Place.
"Maybe I'll guard the in-off if it gets to that. Just kidding," Hanna said.
As deflating as the title slipping away was to a 26-year-old rookie skip, Hanna looks back at St. John's with no regrets 11 years later.
Her team won two sudden-death tiebreakers just to get into the playoffs. They forced Jones to execute a low-percentage shot perfectly for the win.
"Any time people bring that up to me, I get the 'oh, you probably don't want to talk about it,"' Hanna said. "Really, there's nothing about having lost that way that bothers me.
'We did everything we could'
"We had a really great game and she was meant to make that shot and win that way. We did everything we could in that week. We didn't leave anything out there."
The national championship starts Thursday with British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut in a pre-qualifying tournament to gain entry into the 12-team main draw starting Saturday.
The top four teams after the preliminary round make the Page playoff. The winner of the Feb. 28 final represents Canada at the women's world championship March 19-27 in Swift Current, Sask.
Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen are chasing a second straight Canadian title. The Winnipeg foursome went undefeated to win Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
Jones and Officer have won five Canadian titles together with McEwen in on four of them. But back in 2005, McEwen was Hanna's second in St. John's and on the losing end of her future skip's historic shot.
McEwen, named Dawn Askin at that time, didn't move a guard far enough to the side on an attempted peel. It was ultimately the corner guard that Jones exploited with her final shot.
"I remember being so nervous that I probably didn't throw it as hard as I could have and it didn't roll out of play," McEwen remembers. "I left it for her.
"I tell people life would have been completely altered for me if we had won that game."
Success keeps curling teams together longer. Had Hanna prevailed, her team would have returned as Team Canada the following year and likely would have remained intact for a few more years.
Moved to Winnipeg
But McEwen moved to Winnipeg in 2006 and joined the Jones team at lead.
"If Jenn Hanna had won that game, maybe Dawn wouldn't have moved," Jones said. "Us winning that game kind of put our team on a certain path. It was our first win and kind of the start of our journey towards where we are now."
Hanna competed in the Ontario women's championships another five years, but didn't gain a return trip to the Scotties. Now a 36-year-old mother of three, the Public Safety Canada employee took three years off from curling recently to raise her children.
She, third Brit O'Neill, sister Stephanie at second and lead Karen Sagle pulled off a major upset to win Ontario as they toppled two-time Canadian champion Rachel Homan in the provincial final.
"Rachel's team was head and shoulders the favourite above anybody else there," Hanna said. "But sport is about just that. Any team can beat any team on any given day."