12/09/2017 17:46 EST | Updated 12/12/2017 18:05 EST

Homan wins semifinal to reach Olympic Trials final, McEwen wins men's semi

OTTAWA — Beating Jennifer Jones in the round-robin finale gave Rachel Homan the hammer for their rematch in the semifinal at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. 

The victory also appeared to give Homan and her Ottawa teammates peace of mind.

Coach Adam Kingsbury noticed it as soon as he arrived at their rental house on the outskirts of town Saturday morning. That feeling carried over into their 6-3 victory over Jones in the afternoon.

"There was a sense of purpose, calmness, and I felt it," Kingsbury said.

In the men's semifinal on Saturday night, Winnipeg's Mike McEwen posted a 6-4 win over Brad Gushue of St. John's, N.L. McEwen will play Calgary's Kevin Koe in Sunday's final.

Earlier, Homan, third Emma Miskew, second Joanne Courtney and lead Lisa Weagle seemed to own the ice before an adoring crowd at Canadian Tire Centre.

The front end was relentless, Miskew was in form, Homan was clinical. They set an early tone and never really let Jones into the game.

Even Team Homan's misses seemed to work out. It was that kind of game for the national and world champions.

Jones hung in there but was not her usual self, shooting a rather pedestrian 76 per cent. 

She simply looked defeated in the seventh end. Homan forced Jones to try to hit for a single, but the stone jammed and spun out to give Homan a steal of one.

Jones closed her eyes and lowered her head, knowing the game was most likely over.

"In order to be successful, you have to make the big ones when they matter," she said.

With a two-point lead and hammer in the 10th, Homan was in control. Jones still made the final throw mean something by sitting three and forcing Homan to hit a takeout.

Homan delivered for the single point and the win to the delight of the 7,001 in attendance.

"We definitely amped it up for that one," Miskew said. "We knew we had to."

In the men's semifinal, McEwen scored the first deuce of the game with an aggressive double takeout in the fifth end.

A tremendous hit and roll in the eighth left Gushue with an in-off attempt that gave McEwen a steal of two. McEwen's brilliant shotmaking continued in the ninth with a runback double that forced Gushue to a single.

"That's as good as I've ever seen him," Gushue said. "If he plays like that tomorrow, he wins for fun."

Up two with hammer coming home, McEwen eliminated the reigning national and world champion.

"I'm glad he picked this moment to bring out his best," said Team McEwen third B.J. Neufeld.

McEwen, Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld shot 87 per cent overall to 83 per cent for the Gushue rink, which includes third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker.

Homan will next play Calgary's Chelsea Carey, who advanced to Sunday's championship by finishing first in round-robin play at 8-0.

Homan's lone loss of the round-robin came to Carey last weekend. The Ottawa team won its next seven games before dashing Jones's chances of defending the Olympic title she won at the 2014 Sochi Games.

"We're right exactly where we need to be," Homan said.

After an opening blank, Jones delivered a nice freeze to force Homan to a single in the second end. Jones ticked a guard in the third end and Homan stole one for a 2-0 edge.

Jones got on the board in the fourth with a nose hit for a deuce. Homan answered in the fifth with a hit of her own for two and took a 4-2 lead into the mid-game break.

The Homan win means there will be new Olympic champions in both team events at the Pyeongchang Games. That reality seemed to sink in as the members of Team Jones fought back tears after leaving the ice.

"Right now, I'm kind of gutted," Jones said.

The Sochi men's title went to Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. He did not make the playoffs this week. 

As a team, Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen shot 84 per cent overall.

Homan, meanwhile, shot an impressive 93 per cent while the team finished at 87 per cent.

"They're just on a mission," Kingsbury said. "All four of them."

Eliminated curlers can still qualify for the Olympics in mixed doubles. The discipline will make its first appearance on the Olympic program at the Feb. 9-25 Games.

Members of the Canadian four-player teams in Pyeongchang cannot compete in the mixed doubles competition.

Announced attendance for the evening draw was 7,161. That brought the overall total to 99,477.


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