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Alberta headed to Page 1-2 game at 2016 Scotties

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — It was a return to form that produced an early reward for Chelsea Carey and Team Alberta on Thursday morning at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Carey’s team from Calgary — third Amy Nixon, second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters, alternate Susan O’Connor and coach Charley Thomas — was an 8-2 winner over Nova Scotia’s Jill Brothers in Draw 14 play at the Canadian women’s curling championship at Revolution Place to improve to 8-2 in the 12-team round-robin standings.

That record ensures that Alberta has locked up a spot in Friday night’s Page playoff 1-2 game, where a berth in Sunday’s gold-medal game will be up for grabs.

“Goal No. 1 was playoffs, so regardless of what we’ve clinched or not clinched, we’re in the playoffs for sure,” said Carey, who skipped Manitoba to a bronze medal at the 2014 Scotties in Montreal before moving to Alberta. “But we want to come out tonight and finish strong (against Saskatchewan’s Jolene Campbell).”

The Albertans shook off a so-so couple of days in the middle of the round robin to put together a solid outing against the Bluenosers, who dropped to 5-5 with the loss, still barely alive for a playoff tiebreaker. Alberta opened the game with a first-end deuce, and then took control with four in the third end and never looked back.

“In the playoffs, you’re going to have to be more precise, right?” said Carey. “Fighting the inch (that the team had been missing by in recent games) was a little bit scary; we wanted to stop that and we did a really good job today. They didn’t put a whole lot of pressure on us, but we did a really good job of being accurate — when we wanted to roll a foot, we rolled a foot. If we wanted to be full top eight, we were full top eight. That’s the kind of stuff we wanted to focus on and we did a really good job today.”

The top four teams will make the Page playoff round, which sees the first- and second-place teams playing Friday at 6:30 p.m. (all times MST) for a berth in the final Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The third- and fourth-place teams will also meet,  Saturday at 1:30 p.m., with the winner moving onto the semifinal Saturday night at 6:30. The loser of the three-four game will play the semifinal loser in the bronze-medal game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Beyond Alberta, the rest of the playoff picture is anything but clear.

Take a wild guess at who he's cheering for today at the Scotties! (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Take a wild guess at who he’s cheering for today at the Scotties! (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones (6-2; Winnipeg) was idle on Thursday morning, and can still finish as high as first or out of the playoffs.

Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville (6-3; Thunder Bay) and Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson (5-3; East St. Paul) could also end up in the playoffs, as could Saskatchewan (6-4; Regina), P.E.I.’s Suzanne Birt (4-4; Charlottetown) and Ontario’s Jenn Hanna (4-4; Ottawa). Even the five-loss teams — Nova Scotia and Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche (4-5; St-Romuald) are in the playoff, albeit barely.

Saskatchewan’s hopes took a step forward with an 8-4 win over Newfoundland/Labrador’s Stacie Curtis (3-7; St. John’s), while Northern Ontario was a 10-3 winner over B.C.’s Karla Thompson (1-8; Kamloops).

In the other morning game, New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robichaud (2-7; Moncton) scored two in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over Quebec.

Team Canada, Manitoba, Ontario and P.E.I. all had byes in the morning draw.

The 2016 Scotties continues on Wednesday with draws at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (all times MST).

For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/tickets/

For the complete schedule, go to http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/draw-schedule/

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016scotties/?lang=fr