Bluenosers claim Scotties bronze medal

This is one to remember . . . down the road at the Scotties Tournament Of Hearts. It’ll be a trivia question soon enough: Name the first provincial champion ever to win a bronze-medal playoff match at the Scotties. The answer: Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith-Dacey.

Team Nova Scotia at the 2011 Scotties Tournament of Hearts(Photo by: Andrew Klaver)

Yep, Sunday’s bronze-medal tiff was a first in Canadian curling history. Never before have they staged a particular fixture to decide third place at the Canadian women’s championship. In the early days, there were playoffs for runnerup status: A three-way joust in 1961 and two-way debates in 1963 and 1964. But nothing in the way of tilts to decided second- or third-place since. Until Sunday. “We learned something from having played them (Ontario) just yesterday,” said Smith-Dacey following her team’s 9-5 conquest of Ontario’ Rachel Homan. “We wanted to try to keep her away from being able to play those big-weight shots she plays so well and try to force a more finesse, soft-weight game. I think we succeeded. We played much better — we made a lot more shots.” Smith-Dacey also admitted it would have been tougher for her team had the tables been reversed in the Page Three-Four game Saturday. “They had to go on to the semi last night, play an extra game, and it wasn’t going to be easy to get up for this one,” she said. “I think it probably was a lot tougher for them to get up for this than it was for us.” Homan suggested her team wasn’t in top form. “We didn’t play very well. But all I want to think about now is coming back here next year. We’ll take some things away from this experience. Hopefully, it will make us better.” Homan’s Ottawa team finished with a 9-5 record overall, the same log turned in by the Nova Scotians. Ontario got off to a 3-0 start after three ends but Smith-Dacey wrested back all those points in the fourth end and actually had an opportunity to take the lead with a quartet of points but rolled out her shooter on a last-rock hit. After another exchange of singles, the Bluenosers took the lead for good in the seventh with a deuce. Homan needed a draw to nibble the four-foot in the eighth looking at three enemy stones to stay within a point but Smith-Dacey applied the crusher with three in the ninth. “I think we’ll probably keep this team together, but we’ll be talking about that later,” said the Nova Scotia skip, adding that her team was proud of its overall performance at this Scotties. “If so, and we have enough points, we’ll take a look at shooting for the Olympic trials and playing in the Canada Cup next year because the emphasis of earning points there has become huge.” The next Canada Cup is slated for Cranbrook, B.C., Nov. 30-Dec. 4 and has been reduced to a seven-team squabble for men and for women with entry based on CTRS points. The move to add the bronze game on the Scotties Sunday, in advance of the championship final, was made by the Canadian Curling Association this year. It falls in line with similar practice at the world-championship level. The idea is to spice up the final day and give the fans added value. From the standpoint of the teams, Sunday’s bronze scuffle was worth $5,000 to the winners.