To hear Kathy O’Rourke tell it, these young Islanders are just getting warmed up.
Prince Edward Island became the first rink to eight wins Thursday morning at the Scott Tournament of Hearts, edging further ahead of the pack with a 9-5 win over Newfoundland at the Essar Centre.
“(Third) Geri-Lynn (Ramsay) and (last-rock tosser) Erin (Carmody) were just on fire out there again this morning, and that’s great to have that at your back end,” said O’Rourke, the P.E.I. skip who throws second rocks.
“It’s amazing to watch those two. I don’t really see any nerves in them at all,” said O’Rourke of Carmody and Ramsay, both 21. “Even off the ice, we don’t talk much about what’s coming next, other than making sure we’re ready for the first end of our next game. We’re trying not to get ahead of ourselves here.”
If the Islanders (8-2) win Thursday afternoon’s assignment against British Columbia (5-4), they’d finish atop the round robin at the Scotties for the first time since 2003, when Suzanne Gaudet went 10-1 at Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. No P.E.I. team has ever won the Canadian women’s curling championship.
In Thursday morning’s other Draw 15 results, host Ontario (7-3) halted a two-game losing slide with a 7-3 decision over Nova Scotia (1-9). Amber Holland’s Saskatchewan outfit (5-5) all but eliminated itself from the playoff round with a 9-5 loss to the Territories (3-7). And in a battle of also-rans, Eve Belisle’s Quebec rink (6-5) edged Andrea Kelly’s New Brunswick crew (4-6) by a 6-5 count.
On Sheet B, the Islanders scored three in the first, chalked up another three-ender in the fourth thanks to a critical Ramsay double takeout, and rang up a deuce in the eighth against Shelley Nichols’ quartet from the Rock.
“No question, right from the get-go to start this year, it’s hard not to be energized by two young people (Carmody and Ramsay) of that age. Not only two young people, but two young people who have a true love for this game,” said O’Rourke, whose lead is Tricia Affleck. “They practise harder than anyone I know. And when you put together that combination of talent and hard practice, this is the result.”
Meanwhile, Krista McCarville’s Ontario rink from Thunder Bay got things back on track after losses Wednesday to Manitoba and the Territories.
The turning point in Ontario’s 7-3 win Thursday over the Bluenosers came in the sixth end with a steal of four, when Nova Scotia skip Nancy McConnery missed a takeout facing four Ontario counters.
“Much better, definitely. Our team was back, and I felt like I was back. Felt like I had some more confidence than I did yesterday,” said McCarville, whose Fort William Curling Club outfit includes Tara George, Ashley Miharija and Kari MacLean. “It feels really good to get our old team back, and forget about yesterday.
“We just weren’t catching on to the ice (Wednesday), and we didn’t have that confidence. Going into that second game, I think we were just rattled over our first-game loss, and didn’t fully get over it. So we had a good talk, and a good night off to really think about what we needed to day . . . we came out a lot better.”
Ontario was scheduled to engage in a much-anticipated showdown with Jennifer Jones’ two-time defending champions, Team Canada (6-3), on the Essar Centre ice Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. during the final draw of the round robin.
“We really want to win. It’s Team Canada. Who doesn’t want to beat Team Canada at the Scotties?” said McCarville, 27. “It’s definitely a big game. We want to play our best.”
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan saw its playoff hopes almost certainly dashed with that devastating loss to Sharon Cormier’s Yellowknife gang. The Territories stole two in the ninth for the final points as Holland’s final rock slid through the four-foot instead of nestling against an opposition counter.
“I missed a lot of opportunities that game. So that’s harder for me than anyone,” said Holland, whose Kronau Curling Club quartet includes Kim Schneider, Tammy Schneider and Heather Kalenchuk. “Sharon Cormier made a lot of great shots, and kudos to her — because there were a lot of times her team could have been down and out, and she just kept plugging.
“You don’t want to come to this event and play poor. And we did. So that sucks more than anything else. Good event, lot of curling. Think I’m getting too old for this,” added Holland with a laugh. “But you’ve just got to perform, regardless of what’s in front of you and what’s given to you.
“We didn’t do that at times, and hence, that’s why we’re at five losses.”
Thursday’s afternoon draw, slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET, was to pit the Territories (4-6) against Alberta (3-6), Manitoba (6-3) versus New Brunswick (4-6), P.E.I. (8-2) against B.C. (5-4) and Canada (6-3) versus Nova Scotia (1-9).