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Northern Ontario takes big step towards 2017 Scotties playoffs

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville scored two three-enders on her way to an 8-4 win over Canada’s Chelsea Carey, and make the playoff picture a shade clearer.

The Northern Ontario team from Thunder Bay is 6-3 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, while Carey dropped to 7-2 in the standings after a rematch of the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts gold-medal game, which was won by Team Carey.

McCarville’s win guarantees Ontario’s Rachel Homan (10-0; Ottawa) a spot in the Page 1-2 game Friday at 7:30 p.m. (all times Eastern). Which one of those spots will be determined this evening when Ontario meets Manitoba’s Michelle Englot, who is at 9-1. Englot can finish anywhere from first to third.

McCarville can assure herself a place in the Page 3-4 game (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) with wins over British Columbia and the Northwest Territories in her final two games. Northern Ontario has lost one fewer game than Quebec as the round robin winds down. Quebec’s Eve Bélisle is 6-4, while Alberta’s Shannon Kleibrink and the Northwest Territories’ Kerry Galusha are 5-5 and on life support. Galusha stole one in the 10th end to beat Alberta 4-3 on the afternoon draw.

McCarville’s Thunder Bay team climbed all over Carey with a three-ender in the first end. After trading singles, McCarville put it away with three in the sixth end.

“We know we had to win that game to keep alone in fourth place,” McCarville said. “We obviously want to make the playoffs and try to avoid tiebreakers. We still have two really big games, so we have to keep that rolling onto tonight.”

The first end was a key. McCarville thought Canada would play the first end more conservatively, but played a guard right off the bat.

“So right away we went into it because of that one guard. Rocks just ended up going into the right spots for us.”

Northwest Territories skip Kerry Galusha checks out the situation as Alberta skip Heather Nedohin looks on. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

Counting two when she threw her last rock, McCarville put the brush on the outside of the sheet, hoping to catch a nibble of the four-foot for the third point.

“I was kind of a guess,” she said. “We had to go super wide and had to guess on the weight, it was really heavy out there. I threw it and you kind of cross your fingers that you make it.”

She said the first end was an example of how important having the hammer in the first end can be.

“I feel nowadays with curling, with the level of play now, I feel like getting hammer the first end is really big. You get to generate the end.”

In the other games Thursday afternoon at the Meridian Centre, Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker got her first win of the competition, defeating Nova Scotia’s Mary Mattatall (2-7; Windsor). The Moose Jaw team is 1-8. Also on the afternoon draw, Newfoundland’s Stacie Curtis (4-6) St. John’s) defeated Prince Edward Island’s Robyn MacPhee (2-8; Charlottetown).

Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia’s Marla Mallett (1-9; Maple Ridge) had afternoon byes.

There is a draw tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET.

TSN/RDS2, the official broadcaster of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, is providing extensive coverage of the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

For ticket information, go to: www.curling.ca/2017scotties/tickets/

For schedule information, go to: www.curling.ca/2017scotties/draw/

Live scoring for the 2017 Scotties is available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/#!/competitions/2236

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2017scotties/?lang=fr