Team Ontario skip Rachel Homan, centre, makes a shot against Team Wild Card 1 as second Sarah Wilkes, left, and lead Joanne Courtney sweep at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Ontario's Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women's curling playdowns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

CALGARY — The favourites set the tone in championship pool play Friday at the Canadian women’s curling championship.

With a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Jennifer Jones and Kerri Einarson posted afternoon victories and showed why they’re good bets to reach the playoffs.

“With only three teams advancing, you can’t have very many losses to advance,” Jones said. “So we know that and we know we’re going to have to play every game as though we have to get that W and hopefully we perform well.”

Homan’s Ontario team stole a point in the 10th end for a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey’s Team Wild Card Three. Einarson, the defending champion, topped Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 10-6 to keep pace with Homan at 8-1.

Jones’s Manitoba team posted a 12-8 win over Beth Peterson of Team Wild Card Three to sit in third place at 7-2.

Alberta’s Laura Walker got by Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-6 in an extra end to improve to 6-3. Walker moved into fourth place with Saskatchewan and Quebec, which had an unexpected share of the Pool B lead after the preliminary round.

Carey and Peterson fell to 5-4. All eight teams were scheduled to return to the Markin MacPhail Centre for the Friday night draw.

Carey, who’s filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury this week, barely missed a runback double-takeout attempt with her final shot. Homan had put the pressure on with two protected stones near the button.

“They hung in there with me and we made some good ones in the end,” Homan said of teammates Emma Miskew, Sarah Wilkes and Joanne Courtney.

“Chelsea’s team played phenomenal and I thought she almost had that last one in the end.”

Jones, who’s aiming for a record seventh Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, stole five points in the 10th for her victory. Einarson was also tested early before a late deuce sealed the win.

Two more draws were set for Saturday. The top three teams in the eight-team pool will reach the playoffs on Sunday.

The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal for a berth in the evening final against the first-place team.

The Hearts winner will return as Team Canada at the 2022 national playdowns in Thunder Bay, Ont. The champion will also earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.

The men’s national championship — the Tim Hortons Brier — starts March 5 at the same Canada Olympic Park venue. The Hearts is the first of six bonspiels to be held at the arena through late April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

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