OTTAWA – The cream of Canadian women’s curling is rising to the top at the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.
Hometown favourite Rachel Homan defeated Toronto’s Allison Flaxey 5-3 Tuesday evening to join Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones and Chelsea Carey of Calgary free and clear of the rest of the field atop the round-robin standings. Jones leads the way at 5-0 followed by Carey, 4-0, and Homan, 4-1.
Keeping pace with the frontrunners by beating Flaxey was vital to Homan’s playoff chances and her hopes of being Canada’s representative at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.
“Absolutely, we needed that win tonight,” said Homan. “Flaxey played well, and we needed every shot. It was a really tight game and it came down to a couple of shots here or there.”
Homan broke open a 2-2 tie by scoring three in the sixth end propelling her team of third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney, lead Lisa Weagle, alternate Cheryl Kreviazuk, and coach Adam Kingsbury to victory over Flaxey, who is winless in five games.
Despite the record, Homan is still looking for improvement.
“Everyone’s got room to grow. We’re still going to push as hard as we can to be as perfect as we can be out there. It’s going to be tough. There’s going to be big games coming up,” said Homan.
Since Jones and Carey play each other in Wednesday’s afternoon draw, one of those teams will join Homan, prior to her evening game against Casey Scheidegger (2-2) of Lethbridge, Alta., with one in the loss column. Homan will finish the round robin with evening games Thursday against Val Sweeting of Edmonton (2-3), and Jones on the final draw Friday.
“We knew the schedule a while ago so we’re preparing for that the best we can,” said Homan referring to the Friday night fight with Jones.
In other women’s action Tuesday evening, Krista McCarville (2-2) of Thunder Bay, Ont., rode a three-ender in the third end to a 7-4 victory over Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont. (1-3).
In the men’s draw, 2017 Ford World Men’s champion and 2006 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Gushue of St. John’s made a slick pick of a Reid Carruthers’ shot rock to score four in the ninth end to beat the Winnipeg skip’s team 9-5.
“It was just making sure I didn’t hit it too thick,” said Gushue. “Really it’s a shot that if you play, the majority of time you get three.
“It just looked like it was perfect the whole way down, so we said what the hell, we’ll go for four and really put the game away.”
The win was essential to keep Gushue and his St. John’s squad of third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallows and coach Jules Owchar within hailing distance of the frontrunners. Gushue is third with a 3-2 record behind Calgary’s Kevin Koe (5-0) and Mike McEwen of Winnipeg (3-1).
Gushue admitted suffering a third loss would be risky to the team’s playoff hopes.
“After last night (a 7-4 loss to 2014 Olympic gold-medallist Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) we feel like our backs are against the wall. Having said that our backs are against the wall, it’s kind of in our hands, too. If we get a little bit of help and someone beats Koe and we run the table we might be able to get into the final. But having said that, if we lose one we might miss out on the playoffs. It’s a very fine line right now in the position that we’re in. I certainly wouldn’t want to count on a loss getting in.”
In other men’s action, John Morris and his team from Vernon, B.C., finally hit the win column by downing Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton 10-6 by scoring three points in the eighth and 10th ends. Both teams are 1-3.
The 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings continues with draws tomorrow at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times EST).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/
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