Carey keeps unbeaten streak alive and wraps up first seed at Olympic Trials

OTTAWA — Chelsea Carey might want to send a thank-you card to Swiss skip Silvana Tirinzoni.

Tirinzoni brought in Cathy Overton-Clapham as a substitute last season due to injury. Overton-Clapham played a few Grand Slam events and was quick to show her Hall of Fame form.

“I just got that fire back in me,” Overton-Clapham said. “Fortunately I got the call from these guys to play with them.”

Carey was looking for a third after Amy Nixon’s retirement and Overton-Clapham fit the bill. She locked in last March and the transition was almost seamless.

Now the Calgary team is just one win away from an Olympic berth after capping a perfect round-robin Friday at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings.

“We’re having fun, we’re making some shots and we’re getting some W’s along the way,” Overton-Clapham said.

Carey beat Krista McCarville 5-2 in the morning and dumped Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot 10-3 in the afternoon. That left her with an 8-0 record and a berth in Sunday’s final at Canadian Tire Centre.

Ottawa’s Rachel Homan and Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones locked up the other two playoff spots earlier Friday without stepping on the ice. Homan beat Jones 9-4 in the evening to lock up second place at 7-1 and guarantee hammer for the rematch in Saturday’s semifinal.

It was a tough day for McCarville, who had a chance to be in the playoff mix. After the morning loss, Edmonton’s Val Sweeting beat her 7-6 in the afternoon to rule out weekend play.

Calgary’s Kevin Koe (7-1) and Brad Gushue (6-2) had secured the top two men’s seeds before their tuneup game against each other Friday night, a 6-3 decision for the St. John’s skip.

The third seed went to Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, who beat Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher 6-4 in the morning.

McEwen (5-3) took the lead with three points in the eighth end and added a single in the ninth.

“It felt good to really grind out that game,” he said. “That was the team playing really well and we’re going to have to be able to win games like that going forward.”

Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers could have forced a tiebreaker game with a win in the evening, but he dropped an 8-7 decision to Bottcher in an extra end.

“Without swearing, I would just say it sucks,” Carruthers said. “It’s super-frustrating.”

McEwen will meet Gushue in the men’s semifinal Saturday.

Jones, who won Olympic gold in 2014, could breathe a little easier entering her round-robin finale. Instead of needing a win to avoid a tiebreaker, a victory would have given her the choice of hammer or stones in the semifinal.

Carey, meanwhile, became the first women’s team to sweep the round-robin at the Olympic Trials.

“I’ve always been a big believer that there is a lot of destiny involved in an event like this,” Carey said. “So for me, my job is to prepare as much as I can and I’ve done that leading up and we’ve all done that leading up as a team.

“Then you come out in the final and you allow the training to take over as much as you can and just hope it’s your day.”

McCarville, from Thunder Bay, Ont., and Sweeting finished at 4-4, ahead of Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., at 3-5. Englot and Julie Tippin of Woodstock, Ont., were 2-6 and Toronto’s Allison Flaxey was 1-7.

In the men’s standings, Bottcher and Carruthers were 4-4. Reigning Olympic champion Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was at 3-5 along with John Morris of Vernon, B.C.

Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock and Toronto’s John Epping were 2-6.

Both finals will be played Sunday. The winning teams will represent Canada at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

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