Champs on a roll

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Jennifer Jones is suddenly in unfamiliar territory.

Her Team Canada crew was actually undefeated on the national stage heading last night's late draw.

Jones scored a deuce in the 10th end to beat New Brunswick's Andrea Kelly 5-3 yesterday afternoon to improve to an unblemished 4-0 record at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Last year, Jones struggled through the early going, then on the brink of abyss, her squad bounced back to win eight straight games, including the final, to become the Canadian champ. Those miraculous comebacks continued in Vernon, B.C. where Jones went on to win the world crown.

"No, we're not doing it backwards," Jones said from Victoria. "So far, so good."

Jones sounded much more confident than the skip who kept wondering what went wrong last year when she kept finishing on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

"Last year, I still don't think we played that bad (early) but things just didn't go our way," said Jones, still supported by third Cathy Overton-Clapham, second Jill Officer and Dawn Askin.

"And Cathy's playing great," added Jones, who was tied atop the standings with B.C.'s surprising Marla Mallett heading into the late draw last night. "We're making the big shots when we have to but we still need to get better.

"But it's a long week and it's pretty tough go through it undefeated. But we're having a ton of fun right now."

Funny, a year ago, the Manitoba foursome was wondering when, or if, the next win would come.

Against New Brunswick, Overton-Clapham outshot the opposing third 91%-79% and led all thirds with 88% before last night.

"It was a pretty wide open game," Overton-Clapham told The Canadian Press. "We had lots of opportunities, and kind of hung in there."

Straight ice did translate into a low-scoring, wide-open contest.

"We definitely went into that game knowing we could win," said Kelly, 23. "We played our strategy, and this is how it turned out in the end."

Kelly was actually tied with Jones for top spot among skips at 83% heading into the late draw.

Meanwhile, Manitoba's Barb Spencer earned her first victory, nipping the Yukon/NWT's Kerry Galusha 8-7 despite blowing a 7-2 lead mainly because she could not make easy draws.

In Sunday's late draw, Jones clobbered Spencer 12-5 in an all-Manitoba showdown. Ironically, Spencer's squad outshot Canada at each position but skip.

"We played pretty well and made some big shots when we had to," said Jones. "It's not like they were missing a lot."

Spencer, by the way, was dead last among skips with a deplorable 67% before last night.

Jones was playing Ontario's dangerous Krista McCarville (2-2) while Spencer was taking on Newfoundland's Heather Strong (1-3) on the late draw.

Canada plays Saskatchewan and Yukon/NWT while Spencer faces B.C. and New Brunswick today.

BITER: Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton defeated P.E.I.'s Rebecca Jean MacPhee 12-11 earlier. The 23 total points tied the record for the highest-scoring game in tournament history. The last 23-point game occurred in 1988 when Quebec's Francine Poisson beat Manitoba's Marlene Cleutinx 14-9. That game featured a record eight multiple-point ends.


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