Kerri Einarson can pack her bags for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts knowing she’ll be in it for the long haul this year.
After having to go through the wild-card game during the past two seasons, Einarson secured her spot as Team Manitoba after holding on for an 8-6 victory over Jennifer Jones in Sunday’s provincial playdowns final.
The Gimli, Man., skip topped Chelsea Carey for the last Scotties spot in 2018, going all the way to the final before losing to Jones, but headed home early last year falling to Casey Scheidegger in the play-in match.
This time it’ll be Jones fighting for the wild card as she’ll take on provincial rival Tracy Fleury. The “Big Three” in Manitoba of Fleury, Einarson and Jones sit at the top of the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS) women’s list guaranteeing they’d all make it to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for at least one game.
The team of Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur dropped their opening game of the tournament 6-5 to Abby Ackland’s squad but didn’t lose another rattling off seven straight wins.
Jones, who has won eight provincial titles, defeated the defending champion Fleury 8-7 in an extra end during the semifinal earlier Sunday to advance.
The championship game was defined by steals right out of the gate with Einarson flubbing on a double attempt to yield a steal of two in the first end. Einarson bounced into a 5-3 advantage in the fifth end off of a steal when Jones’s last rock came up well short to concede three points. Another error in seven handed a 6-5 lead back to Jones as Einarson flashed on a hit attempt with her first skip stone and overthrew her last sailing through the rings again to give up two more.
Einarson bumped into a rock pile for a deuce in the ninth to go ahead 7-6 and made an absolute clutch draw with her last rock in the 10th through a port to land on the pinhole of the button. Jones sat several stones in the house and just needed to follow the path with the final rock of the game to secure the championship, but her shooter wrecked on a guard.
Meanwhile, Corryn Brown captured her first B.C. women’s title scoring two in the 10th and stealing one in the extra end to clip defending champion Sarah Wark 8-7. Jim Cotter captured the men’s championship defeating Tyler Tardi 10-6.
Krista McCarville repeated as Northern Ontario women’s champion with a 6-5 victory over Krysta Burns. Brad Jacobs won his 10th men’s title in 11 seasons with a 7-3 win against Mike Badiuk.
Brad Gushue claimed his 15th Newfoundland and Labrador Tankard with a conservative 3-1 win versus Trent Skanes and John Epping took the Ontario Tankard downing Glenn Howard 8-3.
Matt Dunstone will make his second Tim Hortons Brier appearance, first as a skip, for Saskatchewan beating Kirk Muyres 4-2 in the SaskTel men’s final. James Grattan is competing for New Brunswick once again topping Jason Roach 8-6 while Northwest Territories sees the return of Jamie Koe, who scored an 11-5 decision over Glen Hudy.
The Alberta and Manitoba men’s provincial curling championships wrap up playdowns next weekend. Watch the semifinals and finals for both events Sunday on Sportsnet.
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts runs Feb. 15-23, in Moose Jaw, Sask., with the Tim Hortons Brier taking place Feb. 29 – March 8, in Kingston, Ont.
|Team||Scotties Tournament of Hearts||Tim Hortons Brier|
|Canada||Chelsea Carey||Kevin Koe|
|Alberta||Laura Walker||Feb. 5-9|
|British Columbia||Corryn Brown||Jim Cotter|
|Manitoba||Kerri Einarson||Feb. 4-9|
|New Brunswick||Andrea Crawford||James Grattan|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Erica Curtis||Brad Gushue|
|Northern Ontario||Krista McCarville||Brad Jacobs|
|Nova Scotia||Mary-Anne Arsenault||Jamie Murphy|
|Ontario||Rachel Homan||John Epping|
|Prince Edward Island||Suzanne Birt||Bryan Cochrane|
|Quebec||Noemie Verreault||Alek Bedard|
|Saskatchewan||Robyn Silvernagle||Matt Dunstone|
|Northwest Territories||Kerry Galusha||Jamie Koe|
|Nunavut||Lori Eddy||Jake Higgs|
|Yukon||Hailey Birnie||Thomas Scoffin|
|Wild-Card||Feb. 14: Tracy Fleury vs. Jennifer Jones||Feb. 28|