Hearts Beat Equity has women's game rocking

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:05 AM ET

An enthusiastic Kim Kelly couldn't wait for today's resumption of the polar pinball being waged at the John Labatt Centre.

Bring it on, the Nova Scotia third said after losing yesterday's bi-coastal nail-biter against British Columbia's Kelly Scott rink 6-5 at the Scott Tournament of Hearts.

On second thought, maybe not.

"Well, to be honest, I'd rather have the win in the 1-2 (playoff) game," she said after her veteran team lost in the 10th end to Scott. "But that's done. We get to play."

British Columbia, whose oldest player is 35, relaxes in anticipation of tomorrow's final. The more senior Nova Scotia rink, under the direction of 46-year-old skip Colleen Jones, has a playoff today.

Longtime curling executive, author and broadcaster Doug Maxwell had just been talking about the advances of women's curling during a slow start to the quarter-final when everything he said started coming true. The game caught fire with a crowd of double takeouts in the fourth end and didn't let up as the teams served up more good shots than a bartender's convention.

"You used to see the same players from Newfoundland and other places, but it's become extremely competitive everywhere," said Maxwell, whose fourth book on curling will be out in the fall.

The seasoned Nova Scotia squad knows all about it. Jones, Kelly, second Mary-Anne Arsenault and lead Nancy Delahunt have trophy cases full of provincial, Canadian and world championships.

"It's getting better right across the board," Kelly agreed. "In the game this morning, the Quebec team played fantastic and this B.C. team I don't think missed a shot.

"It's exciting and very good for the sport."

Some might question whether a day off today would have benefited the Nova Scotians more than the team from the opposite coast. Kelly has been tossing rocks long enough to find a positive.

"We're battle-hardened and I'll say that out loud," she said.

Yesterday's was just another battle in a long history of them for the veterans.

"It was an awesome game," Kelly said. "There were a couple of shots you'd like to have back, but in some games, it's 10 or 20. What gives us solace is we've done this before," the 43-year-old pharmacist said. "We've played the 1-2 game and won and we've played the 1-2 game and lost."

How exciting was the game? Well, Jones even stopped chewing her ever-present gum to punch the air and break into an enormous smile of combined satisfaction and relief her superb shot knotted it at 5-5 in the ninth end.

She was anything but morose afterward.

"You can't be overly disappointed by a game like that," the CBC weather and sports announcer said. "Sometimes you win those tight battles, sometimes you lose them. They just played awesome."

While it was suggested the Nova Scotia rink spent the matinee chasing their B.C. rivals, Jones felt the game fell within the scope of what they wanted to do.

"I felt like it was our kind of game, to keep them within hitting distance," she said. "I didn't mind that they had the lead, or edge, because I felt that we were coming. I liked the way the game was shaping up."

In essence, Jones and her team played their game, their way. They've won with it and lost with it and by the sounds of it, they aren't going to change their style a whole lot.

"The thing with our game, when you play it close to your vest or chest or wherever you're playing it, you're going to lose hard games like that in the 10th end and you have to be prepared for that. That's how we play it."

Bring it on, as Kim Kelly said.


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