Road To The Olympic Games


Defending champ Jones misses out as 4 teams left fighting for Scotties title

The new Scotties Tournament of Hearts format is not for the faint of heart.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Northern Ontario emerge from revamped format

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones waves to the crowd as she heads from the ice after losing to Northern Ontario in championship pool action at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

SYDNEY, N.S. — The new Scotties Tournament of Hearts format is not for the faint of heart. 

While some have clamoured about certain teams, provinces and territories not belonging at the women's national championship, one thing has become abundantly clear in the second year of the new format — there's parity in the game and it's made for some riveting curling throughout the week. 

Sixteen teams began the week looking for the title. Curling Canada added four extra teams to the field last year to have representation across the country, including a wild card team. 

The first step to advancing in the gruelling granite quest happens midweek, when the field of 16 is trimmed in half. It makes the preliminary round games that much more important and the players feel the pressure earlier than ever at the bonspiel. 

WATCH| Ontario's Rachel Homan joins Alberta atop standings:

Ontario skip Rachel Homan beat P.E.I.'s Suzanne Birt 7-6 in an extra end to join Alberta's Chelsea Carey atop Scotties Tournament of Hearts standings, with identical 8-2 records. 0:53

Then if you pass that first test, it's onto the championship round, where the top four teams from one pool cross over and play the top four teams from the other pool. If they survive that, they finally make it into the final weekend of playoff curling. 

Alberta has passed all the tests so far, topping the standings with a 9-2 record and will now meet Saskatchewan in the 1 vs. 2 game Saturday night. The winner advances straight to the championship game. 

"I just think it's about staying calm now and avoid getting on an emotional roller-coaster," Alberta skip Chelsea Carey said. "If you win, you win and if you lose, you lose. You just can't control the outcome so you just have to stick with your routines."

WATCH| Carey leads Alberta into tie for top spot:

Chelsea Carey's rink moved into a tie for first at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after beating Saskatchewan 10-3. 0:53

Saskatchewan has surprised everyone with their 8-3 record. Skip Robyn Silvernagle is playing in her first national championship and is now one win away from making it into the title game.

"There's been a lot of hard work, no sleep, blood, sweat and tears into this," Silvernagle said. "A lot of our success comes from this whole team coming together. We work so well together."

Ontario finished with an identical 8-3 record as Saskatchewan, but Rachel Homan was defeated by Silvernagle Friday night, dropping her into the 3 vs. 4 game against Northern Ontario to be played Saturday afternoon. 

Krista McCarville, who skips Northern Ontario, needed a win against Prince Edward Island Friday night to clinch a spot in the playoffs. The two Ontario teams now meet in the playoffs. 

"They're a great team but we're playing just as well. We're getting better as this week goes on," McCarville said. "We know what kind of game they play. We just have to be very strategic against them."

WATCH |Team Canada's Jennifer Jones won't make playoffs:

Defending champion Jennifer Jones' Team Canada rink was eliminated from the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after losing 8-6 to Krista McCarville's Northern Ontario rink. 1:13

Jones makes history but misses playoffs 

There have been upsets, historic scoring and surprises sprinkled all throughout the Scotties. Perhaps most stunning is Jennifer Jones being eliminated from playoff contention. 

Never before in Jones' career had she failed to reach the playoffs in 13 previous Scotties, but when she failed to draw for a routine single in the 10th end against Northern Ontario Friday afternoon to force an extra end, Jones' magical run came to a screeching halt.

"It's really hard to win this thing," Jones said. "A lot of great teams and now with the wild card there's that extra team. You really have to be on the top of your game."

But with a win Friday night against B.C., Jones made history by becoming the winningest skip in Scotties history with 141 victories. She was tied with Colleen Jones at 140 going into the night.

"It feels pretty good to have that record with all these amazing players out there," Jennifer Jones said. "We gave it our all this week and tried to the very last moment.

As Jones left the ice, the crowd rose to their feet and showered her with a raucous applause. Jones put down her brooms and bowed to each section of the crowd. 

"How many people get to play in front of a great crowd and have that?" Jones said. "I feel very fortunate and lucky to be in that position. It;'s always emotional. I wanted to thank them for making our dreams come true."

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