Hanna ready to rock the house

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:37 PM ET

ST. JOHN'S -- It will be a baptism of fire for Jenn Hanna when she steps onto the ice for her first career game this afternoon at the Scott Tournament of Hearts. Not only will the Ottawa skip's opening game of the women's national championship at Mile One Stadium be televised across the country on CBC (12:30 p.m.), but she faces the biggest name in women's curling -- Team Canada's Colleen Jones, winner of four straight national titles.

Kind of like an NHL rookie looking across the faceoff circle and staring at Maurice Richard.

It's a big task right from the get-go for Hanna and teammates Pascale Letendre, Dawn Askin and Stephanie Hanna.

"Playing Colleen in the first game is a good thing," said Hanna, who has never faced the defending world champ. "If we win, it's a big confidence boost. If we lose, we get the experience of playing the best right off the bat."

Only the skip has previous experience at a national curling competition when she lost the 1998 Canadian junior final.

But she says the team is ready -- even for Jones.

PRESSURE PACKED

Hanna figures Jones will face pressure throughout the tournament because everybody expects her to come through with another championship.

"Colleen is not going to win the Scott Tournament of Hearts for the rest of her life," she said. "One of these years, it's just not going to work out for them.

"I'm not saying it's going to happen this year, but it might."

Hanna expects a defensive game from Jones -- meaning her opponent will play conservatively and try to have few rocks in play, in contrast to Hanna's aggressive approach.

"They like to hit. We know that," said Hanna. "They like to think they've become a little more aggressive in recent years, but everybody knows they're still one of the most defensive teams here."

The tough schedule continues for Hanna after today's match.

She's up against the home-town Newfoundland squad headed by Heather Strong tomorrow morning and meets Jennifer Jones (no relation to Colleen) of Manitoba, considered a top contender for the title, tomorrow night.

In case they lose a couple of those games, Team Hanna could avoid becoming discouraged by remembering its finish during last month's provincial championship at the Rideau.

After a 1-4 start, Hanna's team won its final four games of the round-robin, reached the playoff round and won four more games to claim the title. Hanna said just knowing that will give the team a boost -- if they need it.

"We're not planning on going 0-4 or 0-5 in our first five games," she said. "But if we play well and it happens, well, it happens. We can bounce back from it."

HEART BEATS: Non-Newfoundland teams were made honourary residents of "the Rock" during Thursday night's pre-tournament banquet. To obtain "citizenship," players were required to kiss a salted codfish and down a shot of Screech, a dark rum. "Raunchy" was how Hanna, who is on her first trip to Newfoundland, described the ceremony ... Hanna advanced to this morning's quarter-final round of the Ford Hot Shots skills competition. She scored well during yesterday's preliminary round of the event.

TEAM HANNA SCHEDULE

Following is a schedule of Team Ontario's round-robin games at the Scott Tournament of Hearts which begins today at Mile One Stadium in St. John's:

Today: vs. Canada (C. Jones), 12:30 p.m.

Tomorrow: vs. Newfoundland (Strong), 8 a.m.; vs. Manitoba (J. Jones), 6 p.m.

Monday: vs. Quebec (Nicholls), 8 a.m.; vs. Territories (Koe), 6 p.m.

Tuesday: vs. P.E.I. (MacPhee), 8 a.m.; vs B.C. (Scott), 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday: vs. New Brunswick (Comeau), 12:30 p.m.; vs. Saskatchewan (Lawton-Miller), 6 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Alberta (King), 12:30 p.m.; vs. Nova Scotia (Zinck), 6 p.m.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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