On the opening day of play at the Grey Powers Players' Championships Tuesday, things fell into place pretty much as one would have predicted. Not surprisingly, the weaker teams lost to the powerhouses; however, there were a couple of games that were probably closer than some had anticipated as a couple of the lower-ranked rinks narrowly lost to those ranked much higher in the standings.
Jennifer Jones, in the hunt for a fourth Grey Powers title in five years, had little trouble getting past 16th-ranked Chelsea Carey 7-3 in the late afternoon draw. Jones found herself up 4-1 in the fourth end, leading 4-2 after five and picking up three in the six to salt away the victory.
But a couple of the evening games were much closer than a betting man would have expected.
Olympic silver medalist and No. 2-ranked Cheryl Bernard edged 15th-ranked Jacqueline Harrison 6-5.
"We expected a game from them. We got off to a really good start and got a lead and then got a little tricked with the ice in the sixth and seventh ends for draw weight and then picked it back up in the eighth," said Bernard.
Bernard allowed the rookie Harrison to claw back in her first ever Grand Slam game with a steal of one in the sixth and two in the seventh to trail 5-4 before Bernard scored a couple in the final end for the win.
Despite the loss, Harrison had few complaints.
"It was a fabulous opportunity for us to play the Olympic silver medalist. They are a good team and it was a good test for us," said Harrison.
"It was a close game and came down to the last couple of rocks there and, overall, we are satisfied."
The other close evening match featured Valerie Sweeting's one-point loss to Shannon Kleibrink.
Kleibrink was down 4-1 to the 2010 Alberta champ but managed to come back.
Sweeting scored two in the fourth and stole one in the fifth to lead 4-1, but Kleibrink picked up three in the sixth to knot the score. Sweeting added another in the seventh before Kleibrink scored a pair in the final end for the 6-5 win.
"It was a good game," explained Sweeting. "We had a good game against Kleibrink but we had a couple of misses and they capitalized and got the three in that one end and the two in the last end."
Other matches Tuesday saw Kelowna's Kelly Scott get past Winnipeg's Kerry Flett 6-4; Quebec's Eve Belisle defeat Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton 6-2; Julie Hastings nip Amber Holland 4-3; Heather Nedohin beat Cathy King 6-3; and Calgary's Crystal Webster dump Brantford's Jo-Ann Rizzo 8-3.
In the two men's games yesterday, Kelowna's Bob Ursel scored four in the fourth on his way to an 8-3 romp over Swedish Olympian Niklas Edin.
"It was not a good start, but we are not used to the swing in the ice. We only get to play on this (type of) ice once or twice a year at best, so it was not surprising. We hoped to make a closer game of it than this, but we will still come up and win some games.We wanted a better start than this," said Edin, whose team went into the 16-rink contest ranked eighth.
Pat Simmons beat Mike McEwen 5-1 in the other men's match.
The competition continues today with the remainder of the men's rinks in action including Olympic gold medalist Kevin Martin taking on Jake Higgs, world champion Kevin Koe meeting Ted Appelman, and Randy Ferbey, Glenn Howard, Jeff Stoughton and Brad Gushue also on the ice.