RED DEER — There’s always something compelling about watching Kelly Scott and Jennifer Jones go head to head on the national stage at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and tonight at the Enmax Centrium was no exception.
Their rivalry has been well-chronicled, going back to their days as juniors in Manitoba, first as teammates then as rival skips. They bring contrasting styles to the table, with Jones loving to put rocks in play and apply pressure to her opponents while Scott tends to be a little more conservative and less willing to push the issue.
And with all due respect to the combatants in Saturday morning’s Page three-four game between Alberta’s Heather Nedohin and Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche, I’m not gonna lie — I’d love to see Jones-Scott III in Sunday’s final.
There’s no question B.C. outplayed Manitoba here tonight, particularly in the first five ends, particularly in the middle of the lineup. The tandem of Sasha Carter and Dailene Sivertson did everything Scott asked of them; Carter, especially, was brilliant in clutch situations — hardly looking like someone who spent four hours in hospital on Wednesday and, oh yes, who’s also pregnant. Her last three games: 94, 94 and, today, 88.
“All-star,” summed up Scott. “When I had Jeanna (Richard) as my third, she was my all-star, and Sasha’s rising to that same level and I’m very proud of her.”
Jones, meanwhile, was facing bad situations in every end she had hammer, and to put it bluntly, she had little in the way of support from third Kaitlyn Lawes and second Jill Officer. Both were splendid during the round-robin, but both had off-games when it counted, and Manitoba paid the price.
“That wasn’t my best game, that’s for sure,” Officer, who was scored at 65 per cent, told Paul Wiecek of the Winnipeg Free Press. Can’t argue with her there.
Now, there are skips about whom I would wonder in terms of their ability to handle a disappointing loss. Jones is not one of them. If there is a female skip on the planet better equipped to handle a back-to-the-wall situation, I’m not aware of her. Jones has been down this road a few times, of course, and has thrived under pressure. She did it at the Manitoba championship last month. There’s no reason to believe she can’t do it here.
Having said that, it would be an electric atmosphere in this building tomorrow if Alberta wins the three-four game to advance to the semi against Manitoba. But taking on the home team in a big game isn’t new territory, either — back in 2009, Jones took down B.C.’s Marla Mallett in the Scotties final at Victoria. In other words, a pro-Alberta crowd today wouldn’t faze her.
But this night belonged to Scott. And the way she keeps willing this team further and further in this event, there’s a solid possibility that the 2012 Scotties will belong to her, too.