All-Manitoba, all-Ontario playoff games at the Scotties
Manitoba, Wild Card (Jones), Ontario and Northern Ontario remain
MOOSE JAW, Sask. – The province of Manitoba has produced some of this country's greatest curlers.
This year's Scotties in Moose Jaw is once again highlighting it.
Jennifer Jones, who made her way into this year's championship by winning the Wild Card game one week ago, is into the 1 vs 2 playoff game on Saturday against Team Manitoba, skipped by Kerri Einarson.
It's a rematch of this year's Manitoba provincial final – a game Einarson won.
It's also a rematch of the 2018 Scotties final – Jones won that big prize.
Now the two familiar foes meet again with the winner advancing to Sunday's championship game.
Einarson has been close to winning Canada's crown jewel of curling before, and is ranked third in the world right now. They finished with a 9-2 record and other than the two losses, have been superb from start to finish.
Einarson did, however, give up a record-making seven-ender against New Brunswick – something the team isn't concerned about at all.
"What seven?" Einarson said. "That's how we look at it. We threw it in the bag. Threw it away. We're rolling right along now."
Jones has been there, done that. In fact, she's chasing history in Moose Jaw.
If Jennifer Jones is able to capture this year's Scotties, it'll be her seventh. No other skip has done that. She also won the championship the last time it was in Moose Jaw five years ago.
"We're in a really good spot right now," Jones said. "All in all, we're feeling really good but we're playing some really tough teams."
The two teams will battle Saturday night inside Mosaic Place.
Another playoff provincial rivalry
So while two Manitoba teams will battle for a spot in the Scotties final, earlier in the day Saturday two Ontario teams will play to stay alive.
The winner plays the loser of Jones versus Einarson while the loser is out of the competition.
Rachel Homan and her Ontario team play Northern Ontario. Skip Krista McCarville, from Thunder Bay, has once again found herself in the final four at a Scotties.
But never before, like Einarson, has she been able to win it all. McCarville lost the Scotties championship game four years ago to Chelsea Carey in Grand Prairie.
There was a time during this week it looked as though the team might miss the playoffs all together after a shocking loss to Nunavut. Since then, they haven't lost.
The game following that loss to Nunavut, McCarville curled 100 per cent.
She plays her best with her back against the wall.
"I don't know what it is. We just need that intensity. We need that focus," McCarville said.
While McCarville enjoys the pressure, she says she's taken a different approach to this year's Scotties.
"I just wanted to have fun this year because when you're uptight you don't play well," she said.
"I honestly feel better this year. Usually I'm so nervous at this point."
She's playing free and says her Northern Ontario team has been working toward this moment all season.
"We play for the Scotties. This is where we want to be," McCarville. "This is what I play for."
Redemption for Homan?
Consider the last two years for Homan.
There was the disappointment of the Olympics.
Then there was the disappointment of last year's Scotties final, when she had two shots to win the championship, only to come up short.
This past summer, she gave birth to her first child, a baby boy.
It has been an emotional roller coaster for Homan and yet she continues to curl at an incredibly high level – now in another playoff battle at the Scotties.
"A Scotties is a grind and a long week," Homan said. "We're going to try and outlast the rest of them."
Homan has won the championship three times, her last title coming three years ago in St. Catharines.
She'd love nothing more than to get back to another title game.
"You have to stay in the moment. We're all top teams and we're all battling. We're just staying in the moment," she said.