Jennifer Jones delivers a stone during the BOOST National semifinals on Nov. 18, 2017, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

Jones, Scheidegger set for National women’s final

November 19, 2017, 12:58 AM

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Jennifer Jones is rolling right through to the final again in the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling.

Jones, who swept through the Masters last month to capture her record eighth women’s title in the series, rattled off her 13th consecutive victory during Saturday night’s BOOST National semifinals at the Essar Centre.

The reigning Olympic gold medallist from Winnipeg defeated Calgary’s Chelsea Carey 6-5 to clinch her spot in Sunday’s championship game.

“It feels great,” Jones said. “It’s been a while since we had won one so it was nice to win one the last event and I feel we’re getting a little bit better. We were shaky to start the event and I feel we’re better now and it’s always good playing a big game.”

Jones will take on Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., who topped Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., 7-4 to punch her ticket to the final.

“It’s pretty awesome actually to play in our second Grand Slam final,” Scheidegger said. “We’re excited and hopefully we can keep things rolling.”

Watch the BOOST National women’s final live Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or (international)

It was a tight battle between Jones and Carey to start as they exchanged lone points back and forth through the first half. Carey stole her way into a 4-2 advantage swiping two in the fifth when Jones came up short on her last.

Jones needed to rebound in the sixth and it was mission accomplished as she scored three to reclaim the lead 5-4. Carey was forced to yet another single in seven to tie it but lost the hammer for the final frame and Jones made no mistake on the draw in eight.

Team Jones also includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer, lead Dawn McEwen and alternate Jennifer Clark-Rouire.

“It was an unfortunate steal of two and steals are never great especially when they’re multiples,” Jones said. “We made some good shots in the sixth end to get our three and then the force in seven was pretty big. Dawn made both ticks in eight and left me the draw, which is always nice.”

Meanwhile, Fleury was running red-hot riding a five-game winning streak entering the semifinals and had hammer to start against Scheidegger. Fleury flubbed on the blank attempt in the first though hitting and rolling but remaining in the rings.

The 2017 Meridian Canadian Open champion Scheidegger avoided disaster on her last in the second rubbing off of one of her own stones but saved it to get the double takeout and count three to get the jump 3-1.

Threes have been the name of the game for Scheidegger — both for and against — so once they got a trio on their side they knew it was a good omen.

“I was like, ‘Oh another one,’ and we were lucky the next end not to give up a three,” Scheidegger said. “The angles were really good for us so it worked out well.”

Fleury drew to the four-foot circle for two in the third to tie it. Scheidegger pulled back ahead with one in the fourth and stole two in the fifth to extend her lead 6-3.

It was all Scheidegger in the sixth end sitting four counters and limiting Fleury to draw for one. A blank in seven retained the hammer for Scheidegger, who still needed to throw her last in eight against two and came through in the clutch drawing around and came to rest right on top of the back one for shot to close the case.

Scheidegger said the steal of two in the fifth was big for sure.

“We like to be up by three and get threes so that was the momentum changer for us,” she said. “It came down to the last rock though and it was a little scary but we managed to pull one out so we’ll take it.”

Scheidegger is supported by third Cary-Anne McTaggart, second Jessie Scheidegger and lead Kristie Moore. They enter the final with a 5-1 record with their lone blemish coming against Jones (6-0) in the round-robin portion.

“Hopefully it’s our turn now,” Scheidegger said with a laugh. “They’re playing really well so we’re just going to take it as good practice and preparation for the [Olympic] Trials and hopefully give them a really good match.”

“They’re a great team and I expect it to be a great game,” Jones added. “They’re playing really well right now so we’ll have to bring our A game in order to have a chance to win.”

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Chang-Min Kim of South Korea are both off to their first career Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final on the men’s side.

Watch the BOOST National men’s final live Sunday at Noon ET on CBC, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or (international)

Mouat beat Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen in a 6-4 set while Kim, competing in his first Grand Slam tournament ever, scored three in the eighth and stole the extra end to stun Toronto’s John Epping 8-7.

The 2016 world junior gold medallist Mouat was almost at a loss for words trying to describe the feeling but said it’s incredible.

“I mean, coming here it’s our second Slam for most of us, so we kind of knew what to expect,” Mouat said. “We never expected to have easy games and we didn’t get one. It’s just amazing to be in the final of a Grand Slam. It’s weird to say but it’s exciting.”

Mouat won the pre-game shootout for hammer and never trailed taking two in the first. McEwen drew for a deuce in the second end to even things up.

Mouat opened up a 5-2 lead capitalizing on McEwen’s mistake that left his last rock open for a hit to score three.

“We managed to get the three in the fourth end and keep control,” Mouat said. “It’s always tough with the five-rock rule but we had to play a few good shots to force them to ones. Luckily we managed to do that.”

McEwen was in chase mode from there having to bump his own to hit a counter and send it around the horn and out but didn’t quite get it and when the dust settled it was a steal of one and a four-point gap.

A desperate McEwen fired his last in six hard but only got a single and lost the hammer. McEwen managed to steal one in seven, however, without the hammer he quickly ran out of options in eight and shook hands with three rocks still to play on both sides.

“We managed to keep things clear,” Mouat said. “I think they hit one through they were trying to tap and freeze and just threw it a bit heavy. We had an open hit. They had to make three shots perfect and we had to miss so I think they just conceded from there.”

Mouat went 2-2 in the round-robin with wins over Greg Balsdon and John Morris and losses to McEwen and reigning Brier and world champion Brad Gushue. It was a whirlwind for Mouat from there taking down the giants of the field from defending champ and hometown hero Brad Jacobs in the tiebreaker to qualify, to 2016 Brier and world gold medallist Kevin Koe in the quarterfinals and then upending McEwen, a winner of six Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles, in the semis rematch.

“We had Gushue and McEwen in our group so we knew we had to play well just to get out of our group because we had Morris and Balsdon as well,” Mouat said. “Tough group and as soon as we got to play Brad Jacobs in front of the home crowd it was a good game to win. We got really pumped for it and just went on a roll from there.”

The Mouat crew features third Grant Hardie, second Bobby Lammie and lead Hammy McMillan Jr. They are only the second Scottish men’s squad to reach a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling final following compatriot Kyle Smith’s runner-up result at last season’s Tour Challenge Tier 1.

Kim held the hammer for the entire first half against Epping by blanking the first, giving up a steal of one in the second, blanking again in three and finally counting a couple in four to lead 2-1 at the break. Epping converted on his first try with hammer scoring three. Kim clawed back to tie it with a deuce in six before Epping made one of his patented angle raises for another trio to seemingly take control up 7-4 heading into the eighth.

Epping’s last coming home appeared to go haywire and opened the door for Kim to make a double takeout and get the equalizer to require an extra end. Epping came up light on his first skip stone in OT, Kim beat the clock with four seconds remaining to draw around and lie shot stone, and then disaster happened for the three-time Grand Slam champion as he fired a runback but missed the counter completely.

Kim, third Se-Hyeon Seong, second Eun-Su Oh and lead Ki-Bok Lee are the first Asian-based team to make it to a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s final. They went 3-1 in round-robin play with a loss to Epping and clipped Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers in the quarterfinals.

Team Kim captured the Pacific-Asia championship just last week in Australia and will represent the host nation at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The winners of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling each receive $30,000 from the $250,000 purse plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup running April 24-29 at Calgary’s WinSport Arena.