CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Team Canada survived a scare, Ontario’s young hotshot came out guns a-blazing and Cathy-O started having fun with her so-called feud with Jennifer Jones.
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts is off to a rousing start, you could say.
Three-time defending champion Team Canada leaned on a familiar face to snatch victory from apparent defeat in its first game, when skip Jennifer Jones, as she’s been wont to do, delivered a perfect, come-around draw up against a Quebec stone, salvaging a last-rock, 7-6 win, Saturday night.
“I totally trust Jenn,” second Jill Officer said. “Throwing a draw to the pin, I wouldn’t want anyone else throwing it.”
The game wasn’t without its dicey moments for Jones, as a stubborn Quebec side led by Marie-France Larouche refused to give in.
The game was tied 6-6, coming home, when Larouche appeared to bury her last rock, putting Canada on the ropes.
Then Jones stepped into the hack.
“All you want is a shot,” she said. “The girls swept it perfect.”
Never any doubt?
“There’s always a little bit of doubt. It felt pretty good when I let it go. But I hadn’t thrown that many draws in the game. It ended up perfect.”
Two sheets over, Jones’ former teammate, Cathy Overton-Clapham of Manitoba, was rebounding from an afternoon loss to Saskatchewan with a 7-4 win over the Yukon/Territories.
Overton-Clapham’s story continues to be front-and-centre.
The five-time Hearts winner, all as a third, was dumped by Jones last year, despite the team’s third consecutive title, robbing her of an automatic reappearance, here.
But she made it back by winning Manitoba with a new team, and now has a chance to tie Colleen Jones’ record of six national championships — much to the delight of some of her competitors.
“I was just happy that Cathy was here,” Saskatchewan skip Amber Holland said. “She deserves to be here and I was pretty happy she ended up winning Manitoba.”
A Wednesday night showdown between Jones and Overton-Clapham
has captured the imagination of fans and curlers alike.
Holland says Cathy-O will do just fine as a skip.
“This is the first time we’ve played her,” Holland said. “She’s trying to figure it all out, too. That’s OK. She can hold her own and she can make shots, and that’s all you need to do.”
Initially devastated by her ouster, and not shy about saying it, Overton-Clapham has begun to have some fun with it.
At the opening banquet Friday night, she related a story about running into Randy Ferbey not so long ago, telling the longtime Alberta skip she was glad spats like the much-publicized one between Ferbey and Brad Gushue don’t happen in women’s curling.
If the 41-year-old can curl as effectively as she cracked up the crowd, she’ll be in the mix next weekend.
In other action, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia split a pair of games, while team Ontario’s young phenom, Rachel Homan, flexed her 21-year-old muscles, thumping Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey, 9-3, to get the nerves out early in her first Scotties appearance.
“At least now we’re not gonna go 0-and-whatever,” Homan cracked. “It’s pretty exciting.”
B.C. won its opener, too, joining Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Team Canada at 1-0.