Strong and Co. barely beat the clock, but couldn't beat Manitoba; rebound for afternoon win to stay in playoff chase
Newfoundland and Labrador skip Heather Strong (left) and third Cathy Cunningham were dejected after giving up a score of three during a rushed 10th end in an 8-7 loss to Manitoba Wednesday morning at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women's curling championship in Regina. However, the Strong rink bounced back for win over Saskatchewan in the afternoon draw, improving the St. John's team's record to 6-3 and keeping it in the playoff picture heading into today's final round-robin games. Photo by The Canadian Press
Regina, Saskatchewan - Given time, Heather Strong was able to come through when she had to Wednesday afternoon, but time was a wastin' for Strong and her rink earlier in the day and they paid for it with an 8-7 loss to Manitoba at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian women's curling championship in Regina.
In the day's secnd draw, Strong and her Newfoundland and Labrador teammates Cathy Cunningham, Laura Strong (the skip's sister) and Peg Gos downed Saskatchewan 7-5. That improved Strong's record to 6-3 , keeping her very much in the hunt for a playoff spot.
However, the St. John's rink might have been in even better position heading into today's final round-robin draws had it not mismanaged its time in the loss to Jennifer Jones' Manitoba rink.
Each team is allotted 73 minutes a game to throw its rocks. But Newfoundland's team had been regularly involved in the longest games of each draw, oushing its time to the limit and such was the case Wednesday morning.
Leading 7-5 in the 10th and with Jones holding the hammer, Strong settled into the hack to throw her final shot with only seconds remaining on the time clock and she released the rock just before time expired. The shott went too far and allowed Jones an easy takeout for a game-ending three-ender.S
But the St. John's team picked up the pace against Saskatchewan. The curlers were quickly into the hack to throw their shots and Strong spent less time ruminating strategy.
"This afternoon's game was a whole lot more fun. I enjoy throwing the rocks with time on the clock," said Strong.
Meanwhile, Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink picked up two wins Wednesday and became the first to secure a playoff berth. At 8-1, her Calgary team was assured of finishing among the top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin today
Alberta pulled out a 10-8 win in an extra end over Ontario's Sherry Middaugh in what may have been a preview of a playoff game, after beating New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud 9-3 earlier in the day.
Middaugh continued to chase the Albertans at 7-2 following a 7-5 victory in an extra end over New Brunswick.
Strong, Quebec's Marie-France Larouche and Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault were tied at 6-3. Manitoba's Jennifer Jones still had playoff aspirations at 5-4.
The top four teams advance to the playoffs and any ties for fourth would be solved by a tiebreaker.
Saskatchewan's Michelle Englot, B.C.'s Allison MacInnes and defending champion Kelly Scott were longshots to get into tiebreakers at 4-5.
Kleibrink's team was the first from Alberta to make the playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts since Cathy King won the title in 1998. The Olympic bronze medallist in 2006, Kleibrink has skipped Alberta at nationals twice previously, but missed the playoffs both times.
In the Page playoff, the top two seeds square off in one playoff game Friday with the winner going directly to Sunday's final.
The loser drops to Saturday's semifinal to meet the winner of Friday's other playoff between the third and fourth seeds. The semifinal winner gets into Sunday's final.
Saskatchewan's loss to Newfoundland was one of two setbacks for the host team the day after its members attended the funeral of Englot's father in Montmartre, 90 kilometres east of Regina.
Joel Englot died of a heart attack the day before the tournament began at the age of 74. Englot brushed off questions about the funeral and her emotional state.
"I'm fine today," Englot declared. "We've decided we're coming out and concentrating on curling and that's all we're thinking about today."