It’s tight at the top at the 2017 Scotties

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – Ontario’s Rachel Homan, Manitoba’s Michelle Englot and Team Canada’s Chelsea Carey are 9-0, 8-1 and 7-1 respectively at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, yet only the team from Ottawa has clinched a playoff spot. The three teams have trampled the competition with their combined 24-2 record. The only losses came when Homan beat Carey, and Carey beat Englot. Homan and Englot play on the Thursday evening draw – 7:30 p.m. – at the Meridian Centre. That game has been circled on some calendars since the opening weekend. All three teams won two games Wednesday to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the field. Team Canada defeated Quebec and Newfoundland/Labrador to get to 7-1. Carey’s Calgary team has been cruising along since dropping that opening game to Homan. Homan clinched a playoff spot with wins over Northern Ontario and Newfoundland/Labrador. While Homan’s 9-0 record ensures she will be playing on the weekend, she hasn’t clinched a spot in the Page 1-2 game. Englot beat Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia on Wednesday. Her 8-1 record leaves her a win away from securing a playoff spot. She can do no worse than a spot in a tiebreaker. Carey was on her game against Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland/Labrador (2-6; St. John’s), rolling to an 11-5 win on the evening draw. The team’s fate is in its own hands as the round-robin winds down. “That’s all we could ask for,” Carey said. “We knew that first game would be a tough one. It was a good game and we learned a lot about the ice and all that good stuff. We’ve been building and getting better and better ever since.” The Meridian Centre was warm Wednesday night after a dehumidifier broke down. Carey said the conditions were much like they were on opening day. “It is the first time I have taken my jacket off in two days. That’s an indication it was really warm and really frosty. Hopefully, we get it a little cooled off for tomorrow because it was really nice and cool, and the speed was beautiful the last two days, three days even.” It is expected the dehumidifier would be up and running for Thursday’s draws. Carey said the curling becomes a bit of grind at this time of the week, but she has experienced it before.

Team Northern Ontario vice-skip Kendra Lilly calls instructions to her teammates on Wednesday night. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)

“We have been around enough to know what it is going to feel like. It’s no different. It’s a grind like it always is, and it’s a long week like it always is, but it is great to be out here. We feel privileged to be here every time we get to come.” In other games on the late shift, Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville stole a point on an extra end to defeat Prince Edward Island’s Robyn MacPhee (2-6; Charlottetown) 7-6. It wasn’t a must-win for the Thunder Bay team, but it was a crucial one. The win leaves McCarville with a 5-3 mark, one win behind Quebec’s Eve Bélisle, who is 6-3. “We struggled out there. I think both teams were struggling a little bit,” McCarville said. “We were on the drawing side and they were on the hitting side, so I think it was a little easier to hit. But we really fought our way through that game and held on and stayed positive to come out with a win.” Meanwhile, Alberta’s playoff hopes took a huge hit when the team blew a 9-4 lead and lost 11-10 to Nova Scotia’s Mary Mattatall (2-6; Windsor). The loss left Shannon Kleibrink’s Okotoks team (with Heather Nedohin calling the shots) with a 4-4 record. Also at four losses is Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories. The Yellowknife team ended a three-game losing streak to remain in the hunt at 4-4. Galusha defeated Saskatchewan’s Penny Barker (0-8; Moose Jaw) 8-7 on an extra end. Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and British Columbia’s Marla Mallett (1-8; Maple Ridge) had byes on the late draw Wednesday. TSN/RDS2, the official broadcaster of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, is providing extensive coverage of the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

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