Road To The Olympic Games

Krista McCarville into Scotties final with win over Jennifer Jones

Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville advanced to the Canadian women's curling championship final with a 7-5 win over Jennifer Jones in Saturday's semifinal.

Northern Ontario skip to face Alberta's Chelsea Carey in Sunday's championship match

Northern Ontario skip Krista McCarville, right, shakes hands with Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones after beating team Canada during the semifinal and advancing to the gold medal game at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alta on Saturday. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

A pair of heists by Northern Ontario's Krista McCarville put her Thunder Bay team in the final of the Canadian women's curling championship.

McCarville stole a combined seven points in two comeback wins Saturday, including a 7-5 semifinal victory over defending champion Jennifer Jones.

McCarville, third Kendra Lilly, second Ashley Sippala and lead Sarah Potts will face Alberta's Chelsea Carey for the title Sunday at this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

"It's my dream come true to win a Scotties and I just really hope that dream comes true tomorrow," McCarville said.

The winner represents Canada at the women's world championship March 19-27 in Swift Current, Sask., and also returns to the 2017 Tournament of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont., as Team Canada.

The host province posted a 9-2 record in the preliminary round. Carey's Calgary team downed Jones in Friday's Page playoff between the top two seeds to gain a direct ticket into Sunday's final. Northern Ontario went 7-4 to claim the fourth and final playoff berth.

Of the eight women playing for the crown Sunday, only Alberta lead Laine Peters has won a national title before with Heather Nedohin in 2012.

Third Amy Nixon was Shannon Kleibrink's vice when they lost the 2008 Scotties final to Jones. Alberta second Jocelyn Peterman made her Hearts debut this year.

McCarville and Sippala lost the 2010 semifinal when they represented Ontario. A Northern Ontario entry was added to the Canadian women's championship in 2015.

McCarville's foursome out of the Fort William Curling Club led this year's tournament in stolen ends with 22. They established a reputation for scrambly wins early in the tournament by stealing two points in the 10th and the extra end against Nova Scotia.

They were down four points to Alberta in their preliminary-round meeting, but still made Carey throw her last shot for a 9-8 victory.

Northern Ontario took their thieving to new heights in Saturday's playoff game against Manitoba and the semifinal.

Trailing Jones 4-2 after five ends, McCarville stole a point in the sixth, scored one with hamer in the eighth, stole a deuce in the ninth and stole another single in the 10th.

Northern Ontario struggled for seven ends in an earlier playoff game against third-seeded Kerri Einarson of Manitoba. But McCarville scored two in the eighth, stole a point in the ninth and stole another two in the 10th for another 7-5 win.

The skip admitted her team seems to play their best when they're on the mat and the referee has begun the count.

"I feel like we usually play better when we're under the stress, the do-or-die situation," McCarville said. "I think we started developing it here at the Scotties.

"I just think at the Scotties we've been down more than we've been any other time in all of our bonspiels. It's been the other way where we've been more in control I guess you could say."

Jones began struggling with draw weight in the semifinal as her shooting percentage dropped from 100 to 73 over the course of the game.

She opted to hit for one instead of draw against three in the eighth. Her shooter rolled wide to give up the steal of two and a 6-5 lead to McCarville. The skip thumped her broom in frustration after that shot.

Jones needed to draw the full four-foot rings in the 10th to force an extra end but was light.

Jones and her second Jill Officer have won five Canadian championships. One more would have tied the record held by Colleen Jones.

"Obviously a little disappointing," Jones said. "We let that one slip away. But they played a great second half and we just weren't good enough today.

"Last five ends, we missed a couple of draws. That hit and roll out in nine let the girls down. But we had a great week and hopefully we'll be back."

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