Hanna and the Hearts-stoppers

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:04 PM ET

ST. JOHN'S -- At the age of five, Jenn Hanna wore a pink sweater when she slapped on a slider and pushed out of the hack at the Granite Curling Club of West Ottawa to throw her first rock. Twenty years later, she's going for a national title in her first appearance at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

Hanna and her teammates Pascale Letendre, Dawn Askin and her younger sister Stephanie Hanna meet Manitoba's Jennifer Jones in the championship game (12:30 p.m., CBC) after downing Kelly Scott of B.C. 9-7 in yesterday's semi-final at Mile One Stadium.

Hanna had difficulty controlling her emotions after Scott's final shot, a draw in the 10th end, wrecked on a guard in front of the rings to give the Ontario team its fourth consecutive playoff victory.

Hanna didn't need to throw her final brick.

'STAY LEVEL'

Her father and coach, Bob Hanna, walked out onto the ice to give some advice.

"He told me to stay level, because I could feel my stomach getting up into my throat," said the Ottawa Curling Club skip.

"He's right, because we still have a game left."

A game? Try the most important in the lives of Hanna and her teammates.

Not only at stake is a national title, but also a berth in the Olympic Trials and a spot at the world championship tournament next month in Paisley, Scotland.

Hanna's team also has a chance to become the first team from Ottawa to win the Canadian women's curling title.

They survived a shaky first half during yesterday and put the pressure on the B.C. squad in the last five ends of the game.

In fact, during an interview in the fifth-end break on CBC, Hanna hinted she'd play "balls-out aggressive" in the second half.

"I can't believe I said that," a smiling but red-faced Hanna said after the match.

Down 5-3 at the break, Hanna --true to her word -- went on the attack and set up ends that would require B.C. to make some difficult shots. And it led to B.C. mistakes.

Scott left her final stone of the sixth end open for a hit, setting up a possible big score for Hanna.

But Hanna jammed the B.C. stone on another rock in the back of the rings to score a deuce when she could have counted four.

Scott made a great draw in the seventh between a pair of guards in front of the rings to score a single and take a 6-5 lead.

But Ontario came back with a deuce in the eighth after Askin and Stephanie Hanna swept the skip's rock into the rings for the second point.

Scott tried to blank the ninth, but stuck in the rings with her final stone, trying to remove an Ontario counter in the back of the rings near the right-side boards.

That point gave Hanna the hammer with the score tied 7-7 heading into the 10th.

"Something inside me said she was going to nose that last rock," said Hanna. "I was a little surprised that she'd played for the blank the whole way through."

TWO BIG SHOTS

Two shots stood out in the final end.

Stephanie Hanna made a great pick of a B.C. guard on her second shot, removing the stone from in front of the rings.

Later, her older sister threw a draw that the sweepers took into the four-foot in front of one of their own rocks, leaving Kelly with a tough draw for a possible steal.

"That last shot was a killer," said Hanna. "Those two sweepers put it exactly where we needed it and we knew that if we put some pressure on, she would have to make a very, very good shot for me to have to throw my last one."

She didn't need to, and now, she's a rookie going for a national title ... not bad for the little kid who used to play in a pink sweater.

"This is what everyone plays for. This is it," she said. "We're going to put it all out there."


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