When hope seemed to be lost for Kanata's Jenn Hanna after a woeful 1-4 start to the Ontario Scott Tournament of Hearts, she and her teammates decided to hit the curling ice and have some fun. The strategy of loosening the grip on their brooms has paid huge dividends.
Hanna and teammates Pascale Letendre, Dawn Askin and younger sister Stephanie are on a major roll, winning six straight games to advance into this morning's provincial women's curling semi-final at the Rideau Curling Club.
They downed Janet McGhee of Uxbridge 7-4 in a tie-breaker yesterday morning and followed with a 10-4 trouncing of Brantford's Jo-Ann Rizzo in the afternoon.
PALS FACE OFF
Hanna faces her friend Chrissy Cadorin of Thornhill, who dropped an 11-2 decision to Thunder Bay's Krista Scharf in last night's playoff game between the round-robin's top teams. The winner of this morning's game will play for the championship against Scharf.
The turning point of the week for Hanna's team came on Thursday night when it beat Scharf, who had lost only once in eight games.
"When we came off the ice and we won that game, I kind of had the feeling that we might still be in this," said Hanna. "I didn't want to say it too loud.
"There wasn't any defining moment where we had some team meeting or powwow. It hasn't been like that. It's been more along the lines of, okay, let's relax. Let's go out and have fun, make jokes and smile a little bit," she said.
"This shouldn't be stressful. For me, when it gets that way, I don't curl as well as I can."
As has been the case in each game during her current streak, Hanna delivered outstanding performances in both games yesterday, facing elimination with a loss in either.
In the eighth end against McGhee, she made a difficult draw to the four-foot against two opponent counters to take a 5-4 lead.
Then on her first shot in the ninth, she completed a great freeze onto one of McGhee's stones in the four-foot and eventually stole a point to go ahead by two heading into the final end.
In the afternoon, Hanna took control by scoring four in the second.
Rizzo missed on a double-takeout attempt on her first shot, then left her second shot wide open which allowed Hanna an easy hit for the quadruple.
"It's a nice thing to be able to crack the big end early," said Hanna. "At that point, the other team is really having to play well to get a two or three to get back into it."
Unlike earlier in the week, Hanna's team is starting to get some breaks, like in the seventh end against Rizzo when Askin made a lucky double takeout after glancing her shot off a guard.
"When things are going good, they're going really well, and that's how I feel right now," said Hanna. "I'm afraid I might jinx us, but I couldn't expect things to go any better than they're going right now.
"I will come out and say if we play (this morning) like we played (yesterday), I would be surprised if we lost."
Rizzo conceded after eight ends when Hanna drew into the rings for an open draw for four.
'PULLED IT TOGETHER'
"When we played them (in the round-robin), they weren't as sharp as they were out there tonight," said Rizzo, who handed Hanna a 7-3 loss on Wednesday.
"Maybe they've pulled it together. They might win the whole thing. They're on a roll and they're a very good team. You can't take anything away from them."
In last night's showdown, Scharf's team was sharp while Cadorin struggled.
Scharf, who finished second in the round-robin at 6-3, drew for a four-spot in the third and got another four-ender in the fifth for a 9-2 lead.
"I definitely thought it would be 10th end, last rock, nerves and the whole bit," said Scharf. "They came out flat and we came out firing."
In the opening draw of the round-robin, Cadorin, who is representing the Guelph Curling Club, scored a 7-4 victory over Hanna.
"I would like to think I got all the bad stuff out," Cadorin said after last night's loss. "It wasn't one of my finest shows ... but I'm going to regroup and get back on the ball."