The Canadian Press
Rachel Homan's Canada team is one win away from going through the Scotties Tournament of Heart final with a perfect record.
The defending champions from Ottawa scored an early three and hung on through some difficult ends before scoring one in the 10th for a 5-4 victory over Chelsea Carey's Manitoba rink in the first-versus-second game on Friday night.
"Pretty crazy," said Homan, whose team has won 12 straight matches. "Some really amazing shots by every one of my teammates and a few we'd like back.
"The ice caught us a couple of times, but we battled and stayed in it to the end."
The Ottawa-based Homan squad, looking to defend the title won last year in Kingston, Ont., will play in the final on Sunday night at the Maurice Richard Arena.
Carey will play in the semifinal against the winner of the third-versus-fourth game Saturday between Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton and Alberta's Val Sweeting.
"We lost, but we played really well, so you come out and try to put the same game together and hope it goes better," said Carey. "We'll try to win the semifinal and get back at them."
Homan started with a bang, scoring three in the second end with a daring double takeout after Carey's first stone drifted left and nicked a guard.
"We like making big shots," said Homan. "They played amazing, but because we got up that three we could make mistakes and still win in the end."
She threw another double in the fourth to force Carey to draw for one.
But Carey responded with a clever takeout that led to a steal of one in the fifth. Then a perfect draw into a crowded house produced another steal to tie it at 3-3 in the sixth when Homan's bid for a triple takeout couldn't dislodge the shot stone.
Homan finally drew for one in the seventh and handed the hammer back to Carey, which she used to take one in the eighth.
"Their team didn't miss," said Homan. "We were an inch (off) here and an inch there and they kept capitalizing on our mistakes.
"We had to keep hanging in tough. We knew we had a lead and had control of the game and we had to keep that and make sure the momentum didn't shift in her favour."
After blanking the ninth, Homan watched Carey crash on a guard on her final stone to hand her the victory.
Carey was trying to get a stone behind the guard, but said it "didn't really matter, the game was over regardless."
Lead Lisa Weagle led Canada by shooting 96 per cent and was especially tough in the final two ends.
The Canada team opened the Scotties with an 8-3 win over Manitoba and ended the round robin on Friday morning with an 11-0 record after a 7-3 win over New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford. Homan's side outscored its opponents 94-43 in round robin play and went to a 10th end only once against Saskatchewan.
After 12 matches, she has still not had to throw a last rock in a 10th end.
The win gave her squad a day off to rest up for the final. Homan said they needed it after playing four times in two days. She said they would practice, relax and spend some time with family.
A boisterous cheering section from Ottawa was among the crowd of 2,309.
Carey was 9-2 after beating P.E.I.'s Kim Dolan 6-4.
Homan's rink, which defeated Canadian Olympic team skip Jennifer Jones in last year's final, is looking to become the first to go through the Scotties undefeated since Linda Moore in 1985.
Lawton ended the round robin on a downer — watching her last rock hit and roll just out of the rings to give Yukon's Sarah Koltun a steal for a 6-5 win.
"We didn't quite finish it off," said Lawton. "Just a bad shot by myself, otherwise we would have won.
"In the end it doesn't make a difference for us. It would have been nice to finish that game off, but we'll rest up and get ready for the playoffs."
Koltun was a crowd favourite all week and the 2,061 spectators gave her a long ovation after her upset win. The 20-year-old from Whitehorse is the first player ever to skip at the Canadian junior championships and the Scotties in the same year.
"It's been really cool," said Koltun. "It's so much bigger.
"You feel like superstars here, where at juniors you're just another team. The crowd loved us and we loved them. It's been incredible."