Sports Curling

CURLING

Canada’s Jones gets scare from Finland in opener

By Ted Wyman, Winnipeg Sun

Canada skip Jennifer Jones (middle) delivers a rock as teammates Jill Officer (left) and Dawn McEwen sweep during their round-robin game against Finland at the World Women's Curling Championships in Sapporo March 14, 2015. ( REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Canada skip Jennifer Jones (middle) delivers a rock as teammates Jill Officer (left) and Dawn McEwen sweep during their round-robin game against Finland at the World Women's Curling Championships in Sapporo March 14, 2015. ( REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

The Olympic gold medallists had a bit of a scare in their opening appearance at the women’s world curling championship, but the end result was the same as every game they played in Sochi last year.

Canada’s Jennifer Jones stole two points in the 10th end to preserve a 9-6 win over Finland’s Sanna Puustinen in her team’s opening game in Sapporo, Japan.

The Jones team, which includes third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen, went 11-0 in Sochi but had to scratch and claw for the victory Saturday, especially in the nervous 10th when Finland had an opportunity to score two and win the game.

Lawes had a hog-line violation on a guard in the final end, which gave Finland a great chance to pull off a massive upset. But the third made up for it with her second shot, hitting and rolling behind cover to set up the steal.

Puustinen was forced to try to hit for just one to tie the game but her last rock rubbed a guard and Canada walked away with the win.

“She made a big shot when she had to, and she always does,” Jones said about her third, who was playing her first game in a world championship. “That was the thing about this game — when someone missed, and we did have a few too many misses out there, the next person would pick up and make a good shot and that’s what it’s all about.”

Canada has never lost to Finland at a world women’s championship.

The Jones team, from Winnipeg, looked to be in control early on, scoring deuces in the first and third ends and a single in five to lead 5-2. But Finland roared back with a three in the sixth and then the teams traded singles until the pivotal 10th, where there were more than a few nervous moments for Canada.

On this occasion, experience won out.

“I was excited, and it was just exciting to play,” Lawes said. “We’ve been here a few days, and when you have that anticipation, you get anxious to get on the ice. I thought we came out pretty sharp; we went two-force-two and mathematically it was looking pretty good until we gave up the three. But it felt good out there and it was fun to get playing.”

Canada’s next game is Sunday afternoon ( 1.a.m. ET) against Olympic bronze medallist Eve Muirhead of Scotland and then the Jones team takes on Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson, who they beat in the final in Sochi, in the evening (6 a.m. ET).

“We’re playing two amazing teams that we have a ton of respect for,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to be sharper (Sunday) in order to be successful.”

Jones curled just 70% in the win, while Lawes came in at 60%, Officer at 56% and McEwen at 79%, all numbers well below their usual standards.

China’s Sijia Liu and Switzerland’s Alina Paetz both posted 2-0 records on the first day of competition, while Muirhead and Russia’s Anna Sidorova also posted wins in their only games of the day.

The United States, skipped by Aileen Sormunen, was the only team to lose both its games on Saturday.

ted.wyman@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

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