WINNIPEG – Former Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Jones got off to a quick start at the 2017 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts, beating Brandon’s Cheryl Reed 9-3 in five ends during the opening draw Wednesday. The St. Vital skip and her crew followed with an 8-5, nine end victory over Christine MacKay of Fort Rouge in her second game of the day.
Jones put up four points in the first before stealing a pair in the second in her opener, and then posted three points in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Reed on the other hand, scored a single in the third end and a deuce in the fifth.
“I thought our team came out and played well,” Jones said. “It’s nice to have a couple of short games. We’re not getting any younger. It’s nice to get out there, get comfortable with the ice and feel confident.”
Jones is playing in her first Manitoba Scotties since winning it in 2015. The seven-time provincial champion automatically qualified for last year’s nationals as the defending Canadian champion.
“It’s always fun to play in provincials especially when it’s in Winnipeg,” Jones said. “We get to play in front of friends and family that we don’t usually play in front of. But its a catch-22. It’s also a tough grind and you want to make it to nationals.”
Fourth seed Briane Meilleur also picked up a victory in the opening draw. The Fort Rouge skip stole three in the final end against Christine MacKay for a 7-4 win. The 2017 Manitoba Scotties is Meilleur’s third but first as a skip.
“I’m pretty nervous,” Meilleur said. “I feel way more nervous than usual but I like being nervous. It doesn’t bother me but it is a different feeling for sure.”
Things didn’t go as well for Meilleur in the late afternoon draw, as she was upset 8-5 by Reed. St. Vital’s Shannon Birchard also came out of Day One sitting at 1-1 as she lost her second game 7-3 to Jennifer Briscoe of Burntwood after getting past East St. Paul’s Colleen Kilgallen 9-2 in seven ends in her opener.
Joelle Brown of Assiniboine Memorial joined Jones at 2-0 atop the “Asham” Black Group by doubling Briscoe 10-5 and then defeating Colleen Kilgallen of East St. Paul 9-4.
A huge upset in the evening draw saw Lisa Menard of Dauphin stun defending champ Kerri Einarson of East St. Paul 8-3 in eight ends. That was after Einarson had eked out a 5-3 win over Megan Armit of West Kildonan in her opening game. Menard was almost a giant killer in Draw Two as well, scoring four in the 8th end and stealing a deuce in the 9th against Michelle Englot of The Granite, before the #3 seeds recovered with two of their own in the 10th end for a narrow 9-8 victory. Englot was completely in control in the evening draw, rolling over Armit 11-4.
The Seven Time Saskatchewan Champ from Regina, skipping the former Kristy McDonald rink, is tied with Beth Peterson at 2-0 for the early lead in the “Asham Express” Red Group. The Peterson rink from Assiniboine Memorial opened with an extra end 7-6 win over #5 seed Darcy Robertson of Pembina, and then outlasted Cathy Overton-Clapham 9-8 in the evening draw.
This year’s provincial championship runs until Sunday at the Eric Coy Arena.