Defending champion Einarson charges into Tournament of Hearts playoffs

Kerri Einarson sped into the Canadian women's curling championship playoffs with a sixth straight win Tuesday.

Manitoba's Jones wins twice Tuesday to lead Pool B at 5-1

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson delivers a rock with her right hand while playing Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson delivers a rock while playing Saskatchewan at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, in Kamloops, B.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Speeding into playoffs at the Canadian women's curling championship is a Kerri Einarson specialty.

A sixth straight win at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Tuesday launched the three-time defending champion into the championship round well before the conclusion of pool play Thursday.

"When you're just playing loose and relaxed, it kind of just all goes hand in hand and it seems to flow well," Einarson said following a 10-3 win over Saskatchewan.

Their opener in Kamloops, B.C. mirrors previous fast starts which Einarson, vice Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Harris have parlayed into Hearts crowns three years running.

The Gimli Curling Club foursome from Manitoba started 6-0 last year in Thunder Bay, Ont. — and went unbeaten in pool play — and also won their first six games in Calgary's curling bubble in 2021.

They went 5-1 in their first half-dozen games in Moose Jaw, Sask., en route to the first of their three straight titles in 2020.

Their stiffest test so far in Kamloops was trailing Kaitlyn Lawes' wild-card team 5-1 after four ends and duking out a 10-9 victory.

"I think we just feel really comfortable here at the Scotties and we know what kind of ice we're in for," Harris said.

WATCH | That Curling Show — Jones, Einarson chase Scotties history:

That Curling Show: Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson chase Scotties history

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Hosts Devin Heroux and Colleen Jones preview the 2023 Scotties Tournament of Hearts with champs Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson, debate the pregnancy exemption rule with second Emma Miskew, and find out what it's like to be a curling parent with Kerry Galusha, Heather Nedohin and Krista McCarville.

"And if it's a little different, we just try to learn it as quick as we can, not panic and get frustrated, and just try to work with it until we start making more shots."

The top three teams in each pool of nine advance to Friday's championship round. Saturday's four Page playoff teams emerge from that group of six.

The semifinal and final are Sunday.

Six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba and last year's finalist Krista McCarville of Northern Ontario co-led Pool B at 5-1.

Men's curling coach and female player discuss strategy during match at Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones and coach Glenn Howard talk during a Northwest Territories timeout at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Tuesday in Kamloops, B.C. Jones defeated Kerry Galusha 10-8 to improve her record to 4-1. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia's Christina Black, a 9-5 winner over Nunavut's Brigitte MacPhail on Tuesday evening, ranked second to Einarson in Pool A at 4-2.

McCarville's 5-4 victory over Northwest Territories dropped Kerry Galusha to 3-3. Ontario's Rachel Homan was 3-2.

Quebec's Laurie St. Georges defeating Lawes 9-7 pulled both teams into a four-way tie for third in Pool A at 3-2 with B.C.'s Clancy Grandy and Alberta's Kayla Skrlik.

Casey Scheidegger's wild card 2 beat Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador 12-5 to join New Brunswick and Meghan Walter's wild card 3 at 2-3 in Pool B.

'They make a lot of shots for me'

Einarson's team was 84 per cent accurate on draws and 87 per cent on hits over its first six games.

"We have really good weight control and amazing sweepers, They make a lot of shots for me," the skip said.

"Really good rock placement and, yeah, just making it tougher on the other teams."

After a game-free Wednesday — they'll throw rocks in the afternoon — Einarson finishes up pool play Thursday against Alberta and Nunavut.

WATCH | Galusha shares how Arctic Winter Games shaped her career:

NWT Curler Kerry Galusha shares how the Arctic Winter Games shaped her career

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CBC Sports' Devin Heroux sits down with Northwest Territories Curler Kerry Galusha to discuss the importance of the Arctic Winter Games.

The six teams in the championship round bring their pool records with them. The top seed in each pool earns a bye to the championship round finals.

"We definitely don't want to go into playoffs with any losses," Einarson said.

"It kind of sucks that you have a whole day off because when you get a good rhythm going, you don't really want to break that, but it's good that we get to throw at least for a little bit."

In addition to a function with a sponsor on the team's day off, Einarson says she'll take her twin daughters to the hotel pool.

Well in control of the game

Harris, who is pregnant with a June due date, was ready for a breather.

"I know I'm going to be not moving," the lead said.

"My energy actually hasn't been too bad. I've felt really good that way, so that's good.

Canada, well in control of the game against Saskatchewan, brought alternate Krysten Karwacki in for Harris for the final two ends.

Jones, who employs a five-player rotation, was a 10-8 and 10-5 winner over N.W.T. and Yukon respectively Tuesday.

Her current vice MacKenzie Zacharias, who throws second stones, sat out the win over Yukon with Emily Zacharias and Lauren Lenentine playing front end.

"It's just always a team decision and Emily's a career second so we really wanted to get her in game at second," Jones explained.

"Mackenzie on a two-game day, Mackenzie hasn't swept this much in her entire life.

"This day was decided in advance just to try and give everybody a break."

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