THUNDER BAY – Forced to pay defensively for most of her Draw 4 match at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge, Krista McCarville couldn’t adjust and went down to a second straight defeat.
The Thunder Bay skip erased an early 4-1 lead with a hit-and-stick for three in the fifth, but struggled to make shots down the stretch, while her opponent, Manitoba’s Darcy Robertson, seemingly couldn’t miss.
“They were getting their rocks in the right places, which kind of forced us to be more defensive,” said McCarville, whose rink slipped to 0-2 with the defeat.
The 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts runner-up said the team struggled on the arena ice at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre, making simple shots tricky to judge both the ice and weight of each throw.
“We thought we could play a little bit more defensive and try to clear the rocks a bit better so we could go around the corners an utilize the corners we threw up.”
It didn’t help that for a second straight day the team struggled with their collective shot-making ability. McCarville curled just 51 per cent and nowhere did it show more than in the second end, when she failed to hit-and-stick on both her shots, surrendering a shot at a three-ender, and instead settled for one after Robertson opened with a deuce in the first.
“Unfortunately the first one, which I made, it curled. It was little bit shocking it curled that much, so the second one I kind of pumped up the weight a little bit and kind of hung out there. It was the opposite of what I wanted,” McCarville said.
Robertson drew for one in the third and stole a point in the fourth when McCarville’s attempted raise to the button came up short.
McCarville, whose team includes lead Sarah Potts, second Ashley Sippala and third Kendra Lilly, hit and stuck for three in the fifth to even the score 4-4.
The turning point in the seventh came when Sippala missed a shot, taking the lone stone belonging to her team out of the rings, leaving Robertson sitting four. Lilly made a triple takeout to ease the pressure, but McCarville’s raise missed and needing draw to the four-foot, her final rock crashed off a Robertson stone and her opponent took a 6-4 lead into the eighth and final end.
Robertson would steal one, having left McCarville in need a miraculous double on her final shot to score the deuce.
“We have to win the rest and we just have to think about the good things and think about the things we did right out there and throw away the other things,” McCarville said.
Robertson improved to 2-0, and said they kept pushing because a one or two-shot lead is never safe on arena ice.
“We did play a tight game, tried to capitalize on some of their misses. They ended up making some really great shots to get three and then we had three more ends to keep putting pressure on them. And I think we did,” Robertson said.
A couple sheets over, Ottawa’s Rachel Homan made a last-shot double takeout to score four in the eighth and scored a 7-3 win over former teammate Jamie Sinclair in her 2018 Tour Challenge debut.
“The ice was changing as the game went on and we thought we had a pretty good handle on what it would do there and how to throw it,” Homan said. “I threw it a little bit conservatively, kept the sweepers into it and … made a good one.”
In other Draw 4 action, Sweden’s Isabella Wrana held off former Olympic champion Jennifer Jones, scoring one in the eighth for a 7-6 triumph. Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury downed Edmonton’s Laura Walker 8-3 and Calgary’ Kevin Koe scored deuces in three different ends to knock of Winnipeg’s Braden Calvert 6-3.
In Tier 2 men’s play, both Thunder Bay rinks went down to defeat, Dylan Johnston falling 10-2 to Minnesota’s Mark Fenner, while Colin Koivula fell 10-4 win Manitoba’s Tanner Lott.
McCarville takes on Fleury, her former Northern Ontario rival, on Thursday at 7 p.m.