For several months, Manitoba curling fans have been looking forward (predicting actually) a Scotties Tournament of Hearts final between the new teams of Kaitlyn Lawes and Jennifer Jones.
That could happen tomorrow in East St. Paul. Meanwhile, the two teams will meet in the final game of the Manitoba Scotties Championship round today (Saturday, January 28). Based on the pattern of play so-far, the game will determine first place and the bye to the Sunday afternoon final.
Lawes (Fort Rouge) and Jones (St. Vital/Altona) both completed the preliminary round with perfect 5W-0L records. They each won their first championship round game (Jones over Darcy Robertson, Lawes over Abby Ackland), they both scored 12 points in their first champion ship round game. The teams appear to be that even.
It promises to be a classic!!
Seeded #1 (Lawes) and #2 (Jones) coming into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts presented by Rocky Mountain Equipment, even if the two teams somehow lost both games today, they will both advance to the three-team playoff round. Only the third team is still in some question.
Third seed Chelsea Carey never got the stones rolling for her this week in East St. Paul. The hybrid prairie team of players from Alberta (Carey-birthright), Saskatchewan (Rachel Erickson-birthright and Jolene Campbell-import) and Manitoba (Liz Fyfe) ended with a disappointing 1W-4L record.
Of the six teams who advanced to the championship round, five still have a chance to advance. Only former champion Darcy Robertson, who limped into the second round with only two wins, has been eliminated.
Best positioned to advance is Beth Peterson who impressed as a wildcard national Scotties entry in the covid bubble. Currently at 5W-1L, Peterson needs one win today to advance but it won’t be automatic as her Assiniboine Memorial team plays Jones and Granite’s Abby Ackland team (skipped by Meghan Walter). A loss to Jones is predictable, although far from guaranteed. If Team Ackland beats Darcy Robertson on the morning draw, and Jones beats Peterson at the same time, it will set up an Ackland-Peterson afternoon game to create a third place tie.
Lisa McLeod (Portage) can also be in the tiebreaker mix – with wins today over Robertson and Lawes.
The 10AM (Central) draw has the games between Ackland & Robertson, Lawes & McLeod, and Jones & Pete4rson. The 4PM games are the ones between Jones & Lawes, McLeod & Robertson, and Peterson & Ackland. If needed a tiebreaker game will go at 8PM.
The feature game on CurlManitoba’s UTube Channel at 10AM will be the Ackland-Robertson game. The 4PM game will be the Lawes-Jones game.
It is exciting for me to anticipate those two games, with the implications of both, and know that I will have the privileged opportunity to watch them from the commentator’s booth. Barry Gorlick and I have done six games so far with four to go (and possibly five if there is an evening tiebreaker draw).
I have been in the broadcast booth since my first experiences doing radio broadcasts of Mel Logan’s 1982 Brier in Brandon and Brian Fowler’s 1987 Brier in Edmonton (alongside Ron Arnst). Also a radio broadcast of the 1994 Thompson Tankard final between Dave Smith and Doug Armour (along side Bob Picken) and a lot of Shaw Cable work over several years with Bob Picken, Ralph Bagley and Cathy Gauthier. There is no better seat in the house for these two games today.
I have enjoyed working with Barry, a friend and sometimes teammate, who is a student of what I have called both the art and the science of curling. He studies the game in much greater depth than most curling fans and is very articulate in his analysis.
If you can’t be in East St. Paul to enjoy the games today, I hope you enjoy our efforts to describe them to you.
Looking at the other teams draws for the day, a gambler might be inclined to say Acklands’ odds of two wins are best and that there is at least a chance of the tie happening, as only Ackland does not have to play the undefeated teams on Saturday.