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McCarville guaranteed top spot

Eight isn’t quite enough for Krista McCarville, but it is good enough to clinch top spot at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
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Eight isn’t quite enough for Krista McCarville, but it is good enough to clinch top spot at the Ontario Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The defending champion walloped 2005 winner Jen Hanna 8-3 of the Ottawa Curling Club on Thursday night, propelling the Thunder Bay rink to a perfect 8-0 record with one game left in round robin play. It means McCarville, lead Ashley Miharija, second Kari MacLean and third Tara George advance to Saturday’s page playoff one-two game, with the winner going straight to Sunday’s 2 p.m. final.

That’s just where the 27-year-old skip wanted to be at this stage of the national qualifier.

“When we started the week we said we wanted to be in the one-two game, so we’re guaranteed the No. 1 spot, so it’s an exciting feeling. But we know we have lots of work to do still,” McCarville said.

Once again the Fort William Curling Club stars, third-place finishers at the recent Olympic trials and winners of three of the past four Ontario Scotties, sent a message early in their match that they weren’t a team to tangle with.

After Hanna (3-5) scored a single in the second – she came up a little light in her bid for an opening deuce – McCarville responded quickly, drawing for two in the third to take a lead she’d never relinquish.

It was the fifth that would ultimately decide the match, though Hanna had her opportunities as it progressed.

But she just couldn’t seem to execute in key situations. Never was that more obvious than her last rock of the fifth, a makeable shot that she let get away. Needing a tap-back of her own rock that was biting the top of the eighth, Hanna under-powered it, came up short and McCarville stole two to go up 4-1.

From there on in it was just a matter of limiting her team’s mistakes, McCarville said.

“The steal of two put us up three points, which is pretty big. This ice is really nice peeling ice. It’s not the easiest thing to keep a lead, but we’ve been doing it all week. Being up three is kind of our magic number. We’ve kind of been up three in quite a few of the games and we’ve kept with it and held on. Even though we’ve given up a few steals, we haven’t given up many and we’ve been in control pretty much most of the games, so we’re definitely happy with that.”

Hanna got one back in the sixth, and was a measurement away from a steal in the seventh, but by a matter of inches the call went McCarville’s way and at 5-2 and headed to the eighth, Hanna simply ran out of time.

She scored one in the eighth, but needing a steal in the ninth, she was heavy on an attempt to freeze to McCarville’s rock in the eight-foot, leaving an easy draw for three and it was handshake time.

With the loss, Hanna was eliminated from the playoff hunt, with just one game to go in the round-robin portion of the event.

Also playing out the string are Julie Hastings (3-5), Lisa Farnell (3-5), Krista Mayrand (2-6) and Thunder Bay’s Marlo Dahl (1-7).

Things are a little more interesting at the top, where four teams remain in the race for the final two playoff positions.

Sudbury’s Tracy Horgan clinched the second playoff spot with a remarkable come-from-behind win over Carrie Lindner on Thursday night, rebounding from 5-0 and 7-2 deficits to earn a 10-9 win with a steal of one in the 10th.

Catherine Auld downed Mayrand 9-5 in eight ends to improve to 5-3, one of three teams with three losses. Alliston’s Jacqueline Harrison, who will play Auld on Friday, edged Dahl 7-6 in an extra end to also move to 5-3.

Should no tiebreaker be needed, the 3-4 page playoff is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. Should a tiebreaker be required, the 3-4 playoff would shift to Saturday afternoon, alongside the 1-2 playoff.

The winner this week advances to the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts, slated for Sault Ste. Marie later this month.