No room for error at Ontario Scotties

Cathy Auld delivers a rock against the Horgan rink at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts at...

Cathy Auld delivers a rock against the Horgan rink at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Kenora Curling Club in Kenora, Ont., Jan. 24, 2012. (GARETT WILLIAMS/QMI Agency)

GARETT WILLIAMS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 PM ET

KENORA, ONT. - With time running down, there’s little room to breathe near the top of the 2012 Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts leaderboard.

With only two draws remaining before the playoff round, barring any tiebreaker matches, four skips are vying for three of the top four slots. The only team separate from the pack is the 2011 championship rink skippered by Rachel Homan, which remains undefeated at 7-0.

The Ottawa skip took another two wins Thursday at the Kenora Curling Club — a 7-6 win over Sherry Middaugh on the last rock in the 10th end in the afternoon draw and a 7-5 win over Mississaugua’s Cathy Auld in the late match — in the drive for a perfect 9-0 through the early rounds.

It was only Auld's second loss of the week. Auld was down 6-1 heading into the sixth end against Homan. She fought back with one-point each in the next four rounds before allowing Homan a single in the 10th to secure the win.

Auld, along with Tracy Horgan, boasts a respectable 5-2 record and sits deadlocked in second with the Sudbury skip. In the afternoon match, Auld hammered North Bay’s Laura Pickering 12-4 to improve to 5-1 and briefly sit alone in second. Horgan then caught up with Auld after edging Thunder Bay’s Marlo Dahl 7-6 in the late draw.

In Friday’s final day of round robin play, Auld and her Mississaugua Golf and Country Club rink of lead Melissa Foster, second Stephanie Gray and third Janet Murphy will have their work cut out for them if they want to stand alone in second.

The rink will face the struggling Middaugh — a six time national Scotties competitor making her first appearance at the provincials in two years — and the 2009 and 2010 Ontario champion Krista McCarville from Thunder Bay.

Regardless of their past successes, Auld said she’ll treat her opponents like any other team competing for a berth in the national meet in Red Deer, Alta., next month.

“I look at all of them the same,” she said. “I think that anybody that got here obviously can curl, so I don’t think you can look at any one competition differently than anyone else.

“The way I look at it is every game we go out we have to play our best if we want to put that W on the board. And we definitely want to get that W on the board.”

Horgan delivered McCarville her second loss of the week 9-3 in the early draw and followed up with the win over Dahl in the evening.

Horgan, along with her Idylewylde Golf and Country Club rink of lead Amanda Gates, second Jenna Enge and third Jennifer Seabrook, has made it through the early round in the last two provincial Scotties including a finals appearance in 2010. While she’ll close out the round robin Friday against two teams who are currently 2-5 — King Township’s Kathy Brown in the early draw and St. Thomas’ Allison Nimik in the late match — Horgan isn’t taking any chances.

“Any team can beat any team here,” she said, “so we’ve got to still come out sharp and keep playing like we’re playing.”

“We feel good,” she said. “I think we’re catching on to the ice and getting comfortable. I think we’re pretty happy with how we’re doing so far.”

In other early matches, Allison Nimik took a 7-5 win over Ottawa’s Jennifer Hanna and Dahl took a 10-6 win over Brown.

Rounding out the evening draw, Brown beat Hanna 7-5, Middaugh beat McCarville 7-5 and Nimik beat Pickering 11-3.


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