By Matthew Abrey
Special to the Western News
Jennifer Jones rubs her leg before releasing a difficult shot to let her daughter at home know she’s thinking about her — a gesture she used often Sunday evening.
But despite the challenge, Team Manitoba’s skip defeated fellow Manitoban and Team Wild Card skip Kerri Einarson 8-6 for her sixth Scotties Tournament of Hearts win, tying Colleen Jones for a record.
“Colleen Jones is one of the legends, and we’re up there now, and it’s so humbling. It’s just mind-boggling to me to be honest,” Jones said.
“I think we’ve been pretty privileged with how many times we’ve been able wear the maple leaf, but you never know when it’s going to be your last, and it feels pretty great to get back there.”
With a close game right to the final draw, the emotions were palpable in the South Okanagan Events Centre Sunday evening.
“I could really use a big hug from my girls and my husband,” Einarson said. “We were in control. I knew that draw for three I missed was going to bite me in the butt and it did, which is unfortunate but it happens.”
Jones jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first end, but Einarson bounced right back in the second. The Wild Card skip had a chance to lay three with her hammer shot, but her draw attempt sailed right through the rings. She still managed to keep two in the end, taking a 2-1 lead.
In the third, Jones attempted to lay two with her hammer shot in the third, taking her chances with a double takeout. The shot was a little off-line, however, and Jones only managed to lay one to tie it up at two-apiece.
“We all struggled a little bit early, and you know we told ourselves we had to believe the ice, and try and throw to make the shots, and know that we just had to hang in there and you never know what’s going to happen,” Jones said.
With Jones sitting one in the fourth and no chance for Einarson to take out the shot stone with her final rock of the end, Einarson curled around the high-sitting guard to lay one and go ahead 3-2 heading into the fifth.
In the fifth, Jones was looking for the blank, and attempted another double takeout to clear Einarson’s two rocks out of the rings and keep the hammer for the sixth. Jones was once again a little off-line, and one of Einarson’s rocks remained in the rings for a steal of one.
Einarson, with her last rock of the sixth end, attempted a runback using her own guard to make Jones’ hammer shot just a little more difficult, but the shot was just barely off the mark, leaving Jones with shot stone. Jones would make a simple shot to clear Einarson’s remaining red stone and take two to tie it up at 4-4.
Jones made it difficult in the seventh, but Einarson still managed to lay her hammer stone on top of Jones’ shot stone to prevent a steal and get ahead 5-4.
The eighth end featured a particularly jam-packed house. Although Jones was already sitting one before her hammer shot, she opted to tap a high-sitting rock for a chain-reaction of runbacks, which allowed her to lay two, and take a narrow 6-5 lead heading into the ninth.
With Jones laying 3 rocks closest to the button before Einarson’s hammer shot, Einarson was forced to make a tight draw to the button to prevent a steal, and tie it up at 6-6, giving Jones the ever-important hammer in the tenth end.
And important it was.
The Team Manitoba skip managed to lay two in the final end to capture the 8-6 victory, and her sixth Scotties title, defeating Einarson’s Team Wild Card.
“All week we played well,” Einarson said.
“We had a few shots we’d like to take back here, but I’m really proud of myself and my team for doing so well this week.”