Colleen back in the hunt

MONTY MOSHER -- Halifax Herald

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

The present of Canadian women's curling stared down its future Tuesday afternoon at Mile One Stadium.

Team Canada's Colleen Jones survived a 10th-end scare from Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton in a 7-3 victory at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

The Jones rink out of the Mayflower Curling Club, weary from playing its third game in less than 24 hours, still managed to hand the 24-year-old former Canadian junior champion her first loss of the week and kept her own team firmly in the race for an unprecedented fifth consecutive national championship.

Jones is 4-3 in a race where 7-4 will likely buy some playoff action.

Jones said a bumpy ride will only get bumpier.

"It's going to get crazier," said Jones, with teammates Kim Kelly, Mary-Anne Arsenault and Nancy Delahunt. "There's a lot of parity so you are going to have a lot of teams beating up on each other. Four and maybe even five losses is going to be safe for playoffs. But that's a long way off. We're on life support and trying to move in with the living, basically."

In other afternoon games, Ontario's Jenn Hanna topped B.C.'s Kelly Scott 8-3, ,Alberta's Cathy King downed Newfoundland and Labrador's Heather Strong 7-3 and Manitoba's Jennifer Jones whipped Quebec's Brenda Nicholls 10-3.

In night action, Nova Scotia's Kay Zinck, who lost to Team Canada earlier in the day, fell 8-3 to Saskatchewan and is 2-5.

B.C. beat P.E.I's Rebecca Jean MacPhee 6-5, New Brunswick's Sandy Comeau knocked off Quebec 8-5 and Alberta doubled Kerry Koe of the Yukon/Northwest Territories 8-4.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan are alone in first at 6-1 with B.C. at 5-2.

Jones, King, Comeau and Koe are in a four-way tie for fourth at 4-3.

Four teams make the playoff round starting Friday. The top two from the round-robin play Friday night for the right to go straight to Sunday afternoon's final while while the third and fourth-place teams meet Friday afternoon for the right to play in Saturday's semifinal against the loser of No. 1 vs. No. 2.

Jones took a single point in the ninth end to lead 6-3 and there was no turbulence in the forecast.

But Team Canada missed an attempt to remove a guard and Lawton had her chance.

She had two rocks counting with her last shot and needed to remove a Team Canada stone from the top of the 12-foot while holding her shooter. She came in too heavy and bumped Jones up for a steal.

"The reality is if you get one missed peel then you are in trouble," said Jones. "That was rather nervewracking."

Fans and media alike in Newfoundland have been waiting for Team Canada to surge. Jones has won four out of five and would have won them all if not for a missed open draw on last rock against New Brunswick late Monday.

"I think we are starting to get there," she said.

Lawton may have deserved a better fate in her first career game against Jones.

The Saskatoon team had Team Canada on the run in the early ends and had a steal of two in their back pockets in the fourth until Jones got a lucky rub to end up on the button for shot and a 2-1 lead. Saskatchewan sagged in the next end and gave up a steal, allowing Jones a two-point edge at the break.

"It was unfortunate for us and fortunate for them," Lawton said of the fateful fourth. "That's the way curling goes. When you have a lot of rocks around you never know what can happen."

Saskatchewan 8, Nova Scotia 3 -- Zinck, with teammates Mary Mattatall, Candice Mittelstadt and Monica Moriarty, gave up an open draw for four in the seventh end.

Zinck had to make a saving draw to the four-foot in the sixth end against five.

Four straight losses after a 2-1 start has the team needing four wins and some help to make the playoffs.

"Certainly, to me, we had to win the rest of them, so this is a huge disappointment," she said. "But we've got a lot of pride for how we curl and we are not pleased, so we are going to come with fire no matter where we are in the standings."

Canada 8, Nova Scotia 4 -- In the morning draw, Jones outgunned Zinck, her former mate, by scoring the final six points.

Jones picked up a deuce in the sixth end to tie 4-4, then stole one in the seventh, two in the eighth and another in the ninth.

Jones made 85 per cent while Zinck made just 68 per cent.


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