Jennifer Jones shoots a stone during the fifth draw of round-robin play at the Princess Auto Elite 10 in Chatham-Kent, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

Jones qualifies for playoffs at Princess Auto Elite 10

September 27, 2018, 10:19 PM

CHATHAM-KENT, Ont. — Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones is off to the races and into the playoffs already at the Princess Auto Elite 10.

The red-hot reigning world champions became the first to climb to a 3-0-0-0 record (nine points) and qualify following a 3 & 2 victory over Edmonton’s Team Laura Walker during the fifth round-robin draw Thursday evening at Thames Campus Arena.

Team Jones still has another round-robin game to go as the club now turn its attention to claiming one of the bye to the semifinals, which are awarded to the top two seeds.

“It feels great,” skip Jennifer Jones said. “We’ve been playing fairly well and not our best game tonight but all-in-all I feel like we’re making some shots when we have to and having so much fun.”

Match play rules are in effect at the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event where teams compete to win the most ends per game. Points are scored by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer).

“I love it,” Jones said. “It’s a lot of fun and I think it’s very entertaining for the fans. It’s just great to always have lots of rocks in play and always feel like the other team can come back and you really have to grind it out.”

The Princess Auto Elite 10 features three additional unique rules: Stopwatches are banned, tick shots cannot be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the sixth rock of play, and teams have four minutes of thinking time per end.

Considering it’s also the first time the event has included a women’s division, it should have been expected there would be a mixup with the rules although Jones, who is a lawyer by trade, read the fine print and indirectly exposed an error in the wording.

Team Jones’s new second Jocelyn Peterman accidentally hit a guard sitting on the centre line with the fifth rock of the third end. The rulebook originally stated that was OK leading to a stoppage in play and clarification from competition director Pierre Charette. As it turned out, the rule was supposed to say tick shots could not be performed until after the fifth rock to keep in line with the five-rock free-guard zone rule.

“I just thought there were a lot of funny rules in this event so maybe that was another one of them,” Jones said. “I don’t know. I read the rules and it said we could hit on the fifth. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. It all worked out and apparently he’s now changed it for the rest of the event.”

It ended up being a moot point though as Jones ended up stealing the end and made the game all-square. Jones continued to cruise from there swiping points in the fourth, fifth and sixth ends as Walker, who pirated one for her side in the first, struggled with her final shots.

The past off-season led to a lot of team retooling their rosters and gearing up for the new Olympic cycle. Jones said it’s unreal how much Peterman, who previously played with Team Chelsea Carey, has fit in with her squad already.

“She’s just so fun and great,” Jones said. “Just a great teammate making a ton of shots, working hard and really easy to be around.”

Team Walker dropped to a 0-1-0-1 record picking up two points in the morning with a shootout win over Winnipeg’s Team Tracy Fleury.

Princess Auto Elite 10: Scores & Standings | Draw Schedule | TV Schedule

Elsewhere, Nina Roth’s American team scored a 3 & 2 victory over Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan. Both clubs are level with 1-0-0-1 records and three points apiece.

Olympic gold medallists Team Anna Hasselborg from Sweden moved up to a 2-0-0-0 record (six points) after defeating Team Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., 2 & 1. Scheidegger now sits at 1-0-0-1 (three points).

Hasselborg has an ace up their sleeves with three-time world champion Wayne Middaugh coaching them this week.

“It feels really great,” Hasselborg said. “I think we’re getting a little bit more comfortable with the format and it’s so much fun playing it. We’re trying to do what Wayne taught us.”

“There’s not a lot of time to think about anything,” she added, “so you just try to stick to your game plan and execute.”

Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland also topped Edmonton’s Team Carey 2 & 1. Tirinzoni improved to a 1-0-0-1 record while Carey dropped to 1-0-0-2 with both holding three points.

In the lone men’s game, Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers soared to a 2-0-0-0 record (six points) downing Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson 3 & 1. Paterson is now at 1-0-0-1 (three points).

Teams earn three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss and zero points for a regulation loss. The top six teams overall, regardless of pools, qualify for the weekend playoffs.

Round-robin action picks up again Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET with broacast coverage resuming at Noon ET on Sportsnet and online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and (international).

NOTES: Winners of the Princess Auto Elite 10 earn $24,000 of the $200,000 prize purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup taking place April 23-28 in Saskatoon. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the season champions in the series with a $75,000 bonus for the winners.