'Heart-racing' Scotties providing dramatic moments
Tournament of Hearts not lacking intrigue as final day of pool play arrives in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Six-time champion Jennifer Jones admits these wild Scotties Tournament of Hearts results are "entertaining" and "fun for the fans."
Kerri Einarson says it's an "emotional roller-coaster."
And three-time Scotties champion Rachel Homan just wanted to get some rest after a turbulent Tuesday in Moose Jaw, Sask.
"I'm tired. I'm ready for bed right now," she said.
There's no question this year's tournament has had a flair for the dramatics — games full of twists and turns, including a history-making shot. Just take a look at what happened on Tuesday and you'll quickly get the picture.
The day started with a stunning result. Team Nunavut, skipped by Lori Eddy, had only once won a game at the Scotties since the new format was implemented.
They were taking on Krista McCarville's Northern Ontario rink, a seasoned team that lost in the Scotties championship just four years ago. Then they took the ice, and everything changed.
It looked as though McCarville was going to cruise to victory, leading Nunavut 5-1 halfway through the game. But then Eddy mounted a remarkable comeback.
They scored two in the sixth to cut the lead to 5-3, before stealing points in the eighth, ninth and 10th end to shock the curling world and leave McCarville wondering what just happened.
"I'm just ticked off," McCarville said. "We were playing really well. We had a couple of picks and one of them was on a hit for two that I was making that would have put us up really big and it's just frustrating."
Eddy, who last played in the Scotties in 1997, was overrun with emotion.
"I can't believe that just happened," she said. "[It's] like a dream come true. Don't get me started or I'll start to cry."
7th-ender makes Scotties history
That's how Tuesday started and then it hit a different level during the afternoon draw.
New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford, who was sitting with a 1-3 record, was taking on the world's No. 3-ranked team from Manitoba. Einarson and her team were cruising through the competition, undefeated through four games. This matchup, at least on paper, appeared to heavily favour Manitoba. But then in the seventh end everything changed.
With the score tied 4-4, New Brunswick kept loading the house with rocks. Manitoba kept missing. And by the time Crawford settled in the hack to throw her final stone, she was looking at an open hit for seven.
The crowd inside Mosaic Place was buzzing as the rock slid down the sheet. Crawford nailed it. The seven points were the most scored in one end in Scotties history.
"We didn't see that until my last shot," Crawford said. "I don't think we counted anything until it was done. I knew I was throwing for a lot but didn't know it was seven."
The end, and loss, was jolting for Einarson and her team.
"We missed quite a few in that end and we weren't sharp this game," said Einarson.
They lost 13-7.
Competition gap closing
But there was no time for Einarson and her team to dwell on giving up seven. Just hours after making history for all the wrong reasons, they took to the ice against Saskatchewan in a game of massive significance in the standings.
And perhaps Einarson's day best sums up the wild ride so far at this year's Scotties — giving up seven in the afternoon and then scoring five in the fourth end against Saskatchewan in the night draw and easily winning 10-6.
"It's an emotional roller-coaster. Sometimes you're not as sharp and sometimes you're bang-on. Staying focused all throughout the event is crucial," Einarson said. "If you aren't sharp, teams here will beat you."
All of this can only mean good things for Canadian women's curling. There's always a conversation at the Scotties about the divide between the pro teams and some of the other provinces and territories that aren't always competitive.
But this year the gap has closed and teams across the country seem to be raising their level of play.
"We're coming out here playing our A-game and it's almost not good enough," Homan said. "All these teams came to win. It's great to see. The competition level is so high right now. They're putting so much into curling."
And then there's Jennifer Jones, who has won more games than any other skip in Scotties history. Year after year, Jones is so difficult to beat at the national championship — but this year has been an adventure.
Jones had to win the wild-card game last Friday just to get into the event. During past three nights at the Scotties Jones secured victory on the last shot of the game, including two extra-end wins in thrilling fashion.
"It gets the heart racing. Maybe causes a lack of sleep at night because of the adrenaline rush but it's a lot of fun," Jones said.
At 5-1, Jones has now clinched a spot in the championship round and knows the pressure is rising as the playoffs near.
"We've always known we have to play our best to beat every team here. Everybody here puts in a ton of effort," she said.