Dream team on target

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

The dream team will be taking flight to that swinging bridge in Souris. St. Vital's former provincial champion Jennifer Jones hooked up with two ex-national champs this season and the new foursome is paying dividends.

Already the leading Manitoba squad on the Canadian Team Ranking System, Jones defeated clubmate Angela Nagel 9-6 in a Scott Tournament of Hearts city zone playdown at the Selkirk Curling Club yesterday. Supported by new third Cathy Overton-Clapham and lead Cathy Gauthier, as well as returnee Jill Officer, Jones will try to re-capture the Manitoba title she won in 2002 at this year's Scott, to be played in Souris, Jan. 26-30.

"We're pleased," Jones said over the telephone from Selkirk. "It was definitely one of our goals to get to the provincials and it's a relief to get there with a new team. Hopefully, we can keep playing better each weekend so we can peak at the end of January."

Stepped down

Overton-Clapham -- who won the 1995 Canadian crown at third for Connie Laliberte with Gauthier at second -- stepped down from skip to play third for Jones.

"We're having a lot of fun," she said. "I really enjoy playing third again and (Cathy's) got that fire."

Jones said it has been a smooth transition.

"It's been easier than I thought," she said. "We just seem to work so well together and we think a lot alike."

Also earning trips to Souris by winning their respective city zones were: Barb Spencer, Joelle Duguid and Ainsley Champagne, all of Fort Rouge, and St. Vital's Kristy Jenion.

Spencer, the 2003 champ, sunk St. Vital's Krista Novotny 7-2 to clinch her spot.

"It feels great every time you do it," Spencer said. "That was our second goal. Our first was to get back to the (Manitoba Curling Tour) championship and we did that when we won the Selkirk spiel so Selkirk has been good to us. And our third goal comes next week (Canada Cup West Bonspiel).

"Our team's playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Spencer added Kim Keizer, who played for Jones two years ago and skipped her own squad last season, at second.

"Kim has fit in quite well," said Spencer. "And she's got a little spunk, which is what you need. And she's a great player."

Meanwhile, Brandon's Lois Fowler will be back to defend her Manitoba crown after blasting Virden's Dana Poole 10-1 in only four ends in her rural zone final.

"It was a huge goal of ours to get back to defend our title, for sure," Fowler said via cellphone.

"And it's really exciting to be in Souris because I grew up 10 miles east of there (Carroll). I know we're the defending champs but we'll certainly have to work hard to get back there."

Fowler has had to work hard to overcome a torn muscle in her left leg.

"It's taken a lot of acupuncture and rehab," she said.

Other rural winners were: Swan River's Linda Stewart, Morden's Lori Manning, Arborg's Jackie McCormick, Terry Ursel of Plumas, Lois Mosiondz of The Pas, Springfield's Karen Young and Brandon's Kristen Williamson.


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