Alberta wins fifth straight to guarantee final-day play at Scotties

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Alberta has found its rhythm at the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Just at the right time, too.

Needing wins in all four games of the championship pool played Friday and Saturday, the rink from Edmonton’s Saville Sports Community Centre got wins in all four, forcing its way into the final four Sunday.

Laura Walker and her spirited crew capped the rally with a 9-4 triumph in Saturday’s evening draw over Wild Card 1 in the Calgary curling bubble.

“To run the table in the championship round is a pretty special thing for us to have just done,” said the Alberta skip.

“Coming into the championship round with three losses and asking for a tiebreaker, I think we’re pretty happy to be in the mix here,” Walker continued. “So we’ll take what we can get, try to get some sleep and play three (Sunday).”

Indeed, the result slides them into the tiebreaker against six-time Scotties champion Jennifer Jones and Manitoba early Sunday (8 a.m., TSN) with both teams locked at 9-3 in the standings. The aim is to make the semifinal (12:30 p.m., TSN) against defending queen Canada (10-2) and then the finale later in the day (6:30 p.m. TSN) against three-time Scotties champ Rachel Homan and Ontario (10-2).


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But they don’t mind the three-game grind, if need be, at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

“Not if it gets us a Scotties title,” said Walker with a smile. “I think our confidence is high. We’ve been on every side — easy wins and really gritty wins — we’ve kind of had to do it all, so I think that really gives us some confidence to know that we can win from every place. And it means we’re playing well.”

Saturday’s night-cap saw the Albertans fall behind 3-1 early with Calgary’s Chelsea Carey & Co. playing a solid game in a spoiler role.

The teams then exchanged points in the fourth and fifth before Alberta finally found enough offence to result in a multi-point end.

That was the sixth, when third Kate Cameron came up clutch with a double take-out that saw the shooter stick around and come into play for a two-count after Walker delivered the hit-and-stick to perfection with the hammer.

In the seventh, traffic was heavy in the house, but Walker put her first shot on the button, freezing it to a Wild Card stone. Carey couldn’t dig it out with her two tries, giving Alberta a pivotal steal of one and the lead — 5-4 — for the first time on the night.

It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as the Albertans stole two more in the eighth end after Carey rubbed a guard and rolled harmlessly out of the house with the hammer in a bid to save one and tie the game.

In the ninth, Carey was heavy with the hammer with a chance to count one to stay within reach, giving Alberta another steal of two and the win going away.


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“We (couldn’t think about Sunday) until her last rock was a little bit heavy,” Walker said. “If Chelsey makes that draw, it’s still always a game.”

In the afternoon win, it started in the opening end with a surgical removal of a Saskatchewan rock in the four-foot ring by Walker with the hammer to count two.

It ended in the ninth end with a well-executed hit-and-roll to stick for another two on Walker’s last rock.

In between was a pivotal three-ender in the sixth when the Alberta skip drew to the four-foot with backing.

“We’ve been kind of taking this one game at a time and try not to look too far forward,” Cameron added. “We’ve been working with that.”
The two-fer day continued a packed week-plus of curling for the Albertans after an over-extended layoff from the game that saw them get on the ice together for just a couple of weekends back in the fall and six days in a bubble lead-up to The Scotties.

“If you go through the semifinals, it’s like 15 games here in not that many days — it’s a very, very long week,” Walker added. “We’ve been really gritty and grindy in a lot of wins. I think that’s a huge testament to (coach) Shannon (Pynn). She’s really kind of kept us in check in controlling what we can control and reminding us that we’re still learning. We’re only 10-whatever games into this thing, and that’s not a lot of games for an entire season.

“Shannon’s done a really good job of reminding us of what’s important. And I don’t think we could’ve gotten into this position . . . without her here.”


The other afternoon scores saw: Manitoba blast Ontario 9-1; Wild Card 1 edge Wild Card 3, skipped by Manitoba’s Beth Peterson, 6-5; and Canada dump Quebec 7-4 … The other evening games saw: Manitoba upend Canada 10-9; Ontario defeat Saskatchewan (6-6) 7-2; and Wild Card 3 (7-5) destroy Quebec (6-6) 10-3 … Sunday’s tiebreaker goes at 8 a.m., followed by the semifinal at 12:30 p.m. and the finale at 6:30 p.m., with all draws on TSN.

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