|Nova Scotia skip Heather Smith-Dacey delivers a shot during her win over Alberta on Thursday. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — They’re expecting a snow storm here on the Island, Friday.
Five teams couldn’t care less — they’re going to hunker down and do some curling.
Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones showed no ill effects from her loss in the grudge match with Manitoba a night earlier, blowing into prime position at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with wins over Nova Scotia and Alberta, Thursday, to grab second place.
At 8-3, Jones will face 9-2 Saskatchewan in the 1-vs-2 game, Friday night, with the winner getting a direct line to Sunday’s final, the loser a second chance, Saturday.
“There’s a little bit more on the line,” Jones, one of the top playoff performers in the women’s game, said. “So you try to turn it up a notch.”
The three-time defending champ has the momentum Saskatchewan’s Amber Holland may have lost.
After an 8-0 start, Holland has dropped two of three going into money time, but insists she’s not digging herself out of anything.
“It doesn’t concern me at all,” Holland said. “We’re where we need to be.”
Jones has the experience in these conditions all over her counterpart. This is her seventh appearance in the Hearts playoffs, Holland’s first.
On the bright side for the Green and Whit, Holland beat Jones in their round robin meeting.
“No factor at all,” Jones said. “We didn’t play well that game. They played great. So we know we’ll have to play better. But we won’t think twice about that game.
“And they’ve been around the block a few times. The fact they haven’t made playoffs at a Scotties doesn’t make a difference.”
Who makes Saturday’s 3-vs-4 playoff is still up in the air, with third-place Ontario forced to wait for a Friday tiebreaker between B.C. and Nova Scotia.
After hitting a drift or two, Rachel Homan’s young Ontario squad seemed to find its way back onto the road with wins over the Territories and Quebec on the final day of the round robin.
“We had to talk about what we need to do,” Homan said of her turnaround. “And just reassure each other that we believe in each other, we’re dedicated and we worked hard to get here. We belong here.”
Homan finished 8-3, the same as Team Canada, but is relegated to third because she lost her round-robin game to Jones.
As for the fourth and final playoff parking spot, Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey was halfway in after an early Thursday win over Alberta.
But she bumped the wall, losing an evening game to Jones, and that opened the door for B.C.’s Kelly Scott.
Scott, though, had to drive through Saskatchewan to get there, which she did, Thursday night.
“They turned the heat on,” Saskatchewan’s Holland said. “And we didn’t rise to the challenge.”
The last time Holland played Jones, she did. Can she do it again?
“It’s different, and you’re obviously in a different mind set,” Holland said. “But the rocks are still the rocks, the ice is still the ice and the shots are still the shots.”
And a blizzard is just a blizzard.
Bring on the playoffs.