Manitoba, Northern Ontario into Scotties playoff

Team Canada skip Jennifer Jones says playing in the 1-2 game at the Scotties, is exactly where they wanted to be, even after slow start to the tournament.

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — Alberta skip Chelsea Carey and third Amy Nixon have different histories at the Canadian women’s curling championship. Past disappointments make them hungry to win a title together.

The host province will play for a Scotties Tournament of Hearts championship on Sunday in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Alberta downed defending champion Jennifer Jones 7-5 in Friday’s Page playoff between the top two seeds from the preliminary round.

Nixon was Shannon Kleibrink’s third when they lost the 2008 final to Jones in Regina.

"I am so excited to get a chance to play in it again because I got too tight in 2008," Nixon said. "I have way more experience behind me now than I did then. So I’m just going to bring it all."

Carey skipped Manitoba to a 9-2 record two years ago in Montreal. Her team lost the one-two Page playoff game and then the semifinal.

"It really hurt not to be in that final," the Alberta skip said.

Carey, Nixon and front end Jocelyn Peterman and Laine Peters were a new team this season. Carey took over at skip when former Canadian champion Heather Nedohin decided to step back from the sport.

"It’s sort of surprising to be honest with you," Nixon said. "Chelsea and I have come together in a way I wouldn’t have anticipated back in September. I can’t say how impressed I am with the four of us tonight for that kind of a game."

Alberta shooting accuracy as a team was 92 per cent to Jones’s 80.

With the exception of Jones’s three-pointer in the ninth, Alberta controlled the game. The Calgary rink scored two in the first, fifth and eighth ends and stole a point in the sixth en route to victory.

When Carey doubled off a pair of Jones counters with her first shot in the 10th, it negated any chance of a steal of two for Jones, so she shook hands.

Jones drops to Saturday’s semifinal to face the winner of the afternoon playoff between Kerri Einarson of Manitoba and Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville.

Jones and second Jill Officer have 12 years of playoff experience at the Tournament of Hearts behind them, including five wins. Lead Dawn McEwen was in on four of them and third Kaitlyn Lawes one.

The reigning Olympic champions from Winnipeg were outplayed Friday, but they know what it takes to gain a rematch on Sunday.

"I’ve always said playing in the semi is a good thing if you know you’re going to win," Jones said. "We don’t know we’re going to win yet, but we’ll sure give it a shot.

"They played really well tonight and we were kind of — I hate saying it because it’s a cliche — we were on the wrong side of the inch. We rubbed (on guards) a couple of times.

"If we had those by maybe it’s a different story, but they played great and we’ll have to play well tomorrow and hopefully have another shot on Sunday."

The challenge for Alberta is sustain their confident play into Sunday when all the chips are on the table and there isn’t a second playoff life for the loser.

"In a lot of ways all the chips are on the table tonight," Carey said. "Losing that game is scary. It was very real to me if we lost that game we’re very likely not ending up in the final."

"Can I guarantee I’m going to play like that again? No. All I can do is control what I can control and keep my emotions in check and let the training take over."

Alberta and Jones capped the preliminary rounds with 9-2 records ahead of Manitoba and Northern Ontario at 7-4.

Ontario’s Jenn Hanna, Saskatchewan’s Jolene Campbell and Nova Scotia’s Jill Brothers finished just outside the playoffs at 6-5. Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche finished with a 7-2 win over Suzanne Birt of Prince Edward Island. Quebec’s record was 5-6 and P.E.I.’s was 4-7.

Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador finished 3-6. New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robichaud and B.C.’s Karla Thompson ended up 2-9. New Brunswick is relegated to next year’s pre-tournament qualifier to get into the main draw.

The Jones team swept first all-star team honours for the tournament with Jones, Lawes, Officer and McEwen posting the best shooting percentages in their respective positions in the round robin.

Carey, Saskatchewan third Ashley Howard, Manitoba second Liz Fyfe and Northern Ontario’s Sarah Potts were named to the second all-star team.

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