Young guns on target

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. -- The young guns are leading the pack, the long shots are making waves, and the four-time defending champions are on the rocks.

It was a bizarre day at the Scott Tournament of Hearts as five skips with a collective big, fat zero Canadian women's curling titles moved to the top of the standings, while two former champions went the other way.

The youngest skip in the tournament, Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton, 24, is leading the field with a 5-0 record after a pair of wins yesterday, while B.C.'s Kelly Scott, 27, and Manitoba's Jennifer Jones, 30, are tied at 4-1 for second place.

"There are a lot of young skips here, so the chances of a young team being at the top of the standings are pretty good anyway," said Scott, an ex-Winnipegger.

"We are living up to our expectations at this point. There are a lot of wins left and having only four wins under your belt by this point by no means guarantees anything."

Next come the two biggest surprises of the tournament, in the form of New Brunswick's Sandy Comeau and the Yukon-Territories' Kerry Koe. Both are 3-2 and have a better record than Team Canada's Colleen Jones, who fell to 2-3 with an 8-7 loss to Comeau last night, and 1998 champion Cathy King, who is also 2-3.

Many pundits, including yours truly, picked New Brunswick and the Territories to battle for dead last, but that's been far from the case so far. In fact, the Yellowknife players took some inspiration from this reporter's prediction.

"They give us 100-1 odds and say we are just a token participant," Monique Gagnier, who throws last rock for the Yukon-Territories, said after a 10-6 win over Ontario's Jenn Hanna (2-3) last night.

"We're here to prove them wrong."

Manitoba suffered its first loss of the week yesterday morning, 7-4 at the hands of B.C.

But the Jones foursome rebounded with a 9-6 win over Nova Scotia's Kay Zinck and remains in the thick of the playoff race.

IN CONTROL

"I thought we played well in the morning game and then just kinda fell apart in the last half," Jones said. "Tonight was a big win for us, because we don't like to lose two games in a row. It's too early to think of the playoffs, but right now we control our own destiny and it doesn't matter what anybody else is doing."

In fact, if the Manitoba players are to believed, it doesn't even matter that Team Canada is a loss or two away from being out of this thing.

"I'm not even paying attention," said Manitoba third Cathy-Overton Clapham. "It doesn't matter who's in the playoffs, as long as we are."

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan third Marliese Miller is a bit taken aback by yesterday's turn of events.

"I'm a little surprised," she said after her team's 8-4 drubbing of P.E.I.

"I would have dreamed of being 5-0, but I didn't think it would happen."

Colleen Jones blew a chance to move to 3-2 when she wrecked on her last-rock draw in the 10th against New Brunswick.

"Every game is pivotal for us now," Jones said. "Three losses is fine, but now you know you have to win the rest of your games. I don't feel like its slipping yet, but we are used to winning those 10th-end games. That's a bad sign or omen."

Manitoba plays New Brunswick and Quebec today.


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