A showdown between two of the biggest names in curling took centre stage during Thursday night's draw six at the 2018 Canada Cup of Curling in Estevan.
Jennifer Jones squared off with Rachel Homan and quickly took a dominating hold on the game on her way to a 9-5 win on Thursday.
The win puts Jones in a three-way tie with Kerri Einarson and Casey Scheidegger for first place at 3-1. Homan and Chelsea Carey are just behind at 2-2.
Although Jones was kept off the scoreboard in the first end, she made up for it with two points in the second, three in the third and another three in the fifth to lead 8-2 halfway through the match.
"It's really hard to maintain a lead, and I thought we did that quite well. We never really gave them a chance to make a big end against us. That was big, and we made some big draws when we had to," she said afterwards.
While keeping a team such as Homan contained played a part, Jones expressed that they have to look at any team like any other.
"To be honest, you just kind of approach them all the same. They're all great teams here, Rachel's obviously won a few games, so they're a great team and we have a ton respect for them, but we have a respect for everybody here. We know we're going to have to play our best."
The win allowed Jones to rebound from a 6-3 loss to Einarson in the morning draw on Thursday.
Einarson and Darcy Robertson squared off in the night draw and Einarson came away with her third straight win, 8-7.
The two teams traded points until the seventh end, where Robertson picked up two and then added two more in each of the eighth and ninth ends. However, Einarson had the hammer in the tenth and she brought it down for three and the win.
Scheidegger rolled in her night match-up, dominating Allison Flaxey 12-2 to improve to 3-1.
Scheidegger started strong with three points in the first end and took up residence in the house. She scored two more in the second and then four in the fifth to lead 9-1. While the ice was refreshed, Flaxey took time to talk strategy and returned to pick up a point in the sixth end. But that would be about it, as Scheidegger forced Flaxey to concede in eighth with a 12-2 lead.
"[It’s] super big," said Cary-Anne McTaggert, third on the Scheidegger, on the win. She noted they had to put the morning's loss behind them in order to advance.
"We talked about what we had to do, parked it, had a real good nap... and moved on. That's all you've got to do to get better and bounce back," said McTaggert.
On the men’s side of things in the night draw, the winless Reid Carruthers rink faced Kevin Koe, who was fresh off a victory in the afternoon draw.
The only point gained in the extremely tight, defensive display through six ends was a single marker for Koe in the fourth. He found two more points in the eighth end, while Carruthers only picked up one in the seventh. The final score would be 4-1 as Koe picked up his second win of the day to sit at 3-1.
Brad Jacobs is leading the pack at 4-0 after beating Carruthers 5-4 in the morning draw and Regina's Matthew Dunstone, 7-4, in the afternoon.
Dunstone is searching for his first win of the tournament after falling 8-6 to Brendan Bottcher in the night draw on Thursday.
Dunstone didn't go down without a fight against Bottcher as they went back-and-forth early on. Bottcher found two points in the third end, followed by two for Dunstone in the fourth. Bottcher found three more through the next two ends, to lead 5-2 after the sixth. The pair would trade points with Dunstone never far behind, but Bottcher picked up an extra point in the tenth end for an 8-6 victory.
"We'll just go out there [Friday], have some fun and see if we can hopefully come away with two [wins]," Dunstone said, resigned to the fact that his crew will not be seeing the playoffs.
The Saskatchewan skip added that he's happy that the team made it as far as the championship, given their status as a brand new unit on the ice.
In their final two games in Affinity Place, they plan on enjoying the crowd.
"Every time we've walked into the arena, people have been stopping us to say hi and wish us the best of luck. We've felt nothing but support like we expected out of Saskatchewan," said Dunstone.
Bolstered by two Thursday victories, Team Bottcher sits in second place at 3-1, overtaking Gushue, who dropped to 2-2. Epping is just below Gushue at 2-2.
Draw seven gets underway on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m., as Einarson takes on Scheidegger in a big women's matchup, while Jones plays Flaxey and Robertson takes on Homan. On the men's side, Bottcher goes up against Koe and Dunstone plays Carruthers.