Jennifer Jones (L) and Val Sweeting lead their teams into tonight’s Scotties final. (Andrew Klaver/CCA)
The Scotties Tournament of Hearts will see its champions crowned tonight, as the reigning Olympic gold medalists from Manitoba, skipped by Jennifer Jones, take on Alberta, skipped by Val Sweeting (8pm ET, TSN).
Here is a breakdown of some comparative numbers ahead of the big game.
Jones has led Team Manitoba to an 11and 1 record, so far, beating Sweeting in the page 1 vs 2 game on Friday night, to earn a direct bye into tonight’s final. Jones’ team has a win/loss record of 59 and 14 this season, including games at this week’s Scotties.
Sweeting’s rink has a Scotties record of 10 and 3, including Saturday’s semi-final win over Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton. This season, the team from Alberta has a win/loss record of 55 and 17 (according to statistics from curlingzone.com accrued with Scotties records).
Manitoba has outscored opponents by a total of 100-57 in the twelve games they’ve played so far this week. Alberta has outscored its opponents by a total score of 87-75 in its thirteen games.
Manitoba has beaten Alberta twice already at this week’s Scotties. As mentioned, Jones topped Sweeting in Friday night’s playoff game, 8-6, and also won a Friday morning match up between the two, 10-5, to claim first place in the round robin. That means that, this season, Jones has skipped her team to three victories over Sweeting, including a 7-3 win at the Masters of Curling back on October 30th. Sweeting has beaten Jones once this season, a 10-8 win at the Canada Cup, on December 4th.
Manitoba was the leader in team shooting percentage at the Scotties, booking a round-robin number of 85% as a unit, over 11 games. In the 1 vs 2 game against Alberta, Jones’ squad was exactly that good again, shooting 85% in their 8-6 win. Alberta stood tied for second (with Team Canada and Saskatchewan) at the end of the round-robin, with a team total of 82%. Team Alberta shot 84% in both the 1 vs 2 game and the semi-final.
Below, each player’s totals for the round-robin (Team Manitoba on the left, Team Alberta on the right):
Leads: Dawn McEwen, 90% (ranked 1st). Rachelle Brown, 85% (4th).
Seconds: Jill Officer, 86%. (1st) Dana Ferguson, 81% (3rd).
Thirds: Kaitlyn Lawes, 84%. (1st) Lori Olson-Johns, 82% (2nd).
Skips: Jennifer Jones, 81%. (2nd) Val Sweeting, 79% (4th).
McEwen’s percentage went up in Manitoba’s playoff game, where she shot 93%. Lawes and Jones stayed fairly steady, each recording percentages within a point of their round-robin average (Jones down 1, Lawes up 1), while Officer dipped to 83%.
On the Alberta side, Sweeting shot 79% in the 1 vs 2 game, but soared to 91% in the semi-final win over Saskatchewan. Dana Ferguson went from 80% in the 1 vs 2 game to 90% in the semi. Both Olson-Johns and Brown dropped from the page game to the semi. Olson-Johns went from 84% to 75%, while Brown went from 93% to 80%.
Jones’ team is the number one ranked women’s team in the world, according to the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit standings (year-to-date rankings). Sweeting’s crew is third, behind Scotland’s Eve Muirhead.
Sweeting has won two major championships this season, taking the Canada Cup in December. And it should be noted that her loss to Jones at The Masters did not stop her from winning that Grand Slam event, too. Jones has three tour wins this season, including two in October and one at the Karuizawa International, in Japan, in December. Both these teams were a part of Canada’s win at the Continental Cup, in January.
It’s been quite a season for Sweeting, who had to weather some major early season uncertainty due to line-up flux. Team Jones, meantime, just keeps on winning, with no letdown after a perfect run to Olympic gold a year ago.
After a midweek loss to Nova Scotia, Team Manitoba has responded with five straight wins, looking sharp as ever. After starting The Scotties with nine straight wins, Alberta lost three in a row, with Sweeting suffering a big letdown in her own personal performances before starting to find the range, again, as the 1 vs 2 game played out on Friday night. If she and her teammates have again found the mark, we’re in for a dandy tonight. If not, Jones and Manitoba will roll.
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