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Kelly appreciating Team McCarville’s honesty in first Scotties with new teammates

2024 Scotties Team Northern Ontario - Curling Canada

CALGARY – Northern Ontario’s Team Krista McCarville have been perennial contenders at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for nearly a decade.

The Thunder Bay foursome of McCarville, Kendra Lilly, Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts, alongside coach Rick Lang, have been mainstays at the Canadian women’s curling championship in recent years and are making their seventh appearance at the Scotties since 2016 this week in Calgary.

They’ve qualified for the playoffs in each of those showings as well, including making the final in 2016 and 2022, but haven’t been able to reach the top of the podium.

Despite the consistent results, McCarville and company decided a change was needed to get over the hump following last year’s semi-final loss to Canada’s Team Kerri Einarson in Kamloops, B.C.

Not in the form of a subtraction, but an addition.

Enter Andrea Kelly.

“We wanted to add someone on the team, someone fresh and new,” McCarville told on Monday morning following a win over Prince Edward Island. “With the experience that Andrea has, she’s a great shooter. I just thought bringing her on as a third, she can throw those high heaters really easily and she’s good at it. I thought she’d be a good fit for us at third.”

McCarville is the full-time skip while Kelly is the permanent third. Lilly, Sippala and Potts take turns sharing front end duties.

Kelly, 39, is no stranger to this event as she’s skipped New Brunswick at the Tournament of Hearts 11 times in her career, earning a bronze medal in 2022.

She admits the transition from skip to third hasn’t been entirely seamless, with the team still trying to figure out the ice at WinSport Arena.

“It’s definitely been a bit of a challenging week for us to this point. For me, it’s definitely an adjustment to play third and the biggest adjustment for me has been judging weight,” explained Kelly. “When you get on Scotties ice, it’s just a whole different surface out there from what we play on all year. That, for me, is something that’s the hardest to pick up on. We’re getting there.”

Kelly is shooting 84 per cent over four games.

In the evening draw Team McCarville downed Newfoundland and Labrador, 8-3, to improve their record to 3-2. They defeated British Columbia’s Team Corryn Brown in their opener on Friday before falling to Canada’s Team Einarson and Saskatchewan’s Team Skylar Ackerman over the weekend.

The top three teams from each pool will advance to the playoffs following an eight-game round robin.  

“We’ve been struggling just reading the ice and just getting that kick feel that we need,” said McCarville, who shot 96 per cent against PEI, her best game so far.

Despite a bit of a slow start on the ice for Team McCarville at this year’s Scotties, the off-ice chemistry has been there all season with their new teammate.

“We know we keep using the word ‘easy’ all season. Honestly, it really has felt quite easy,” explained Kelly regarding the team’s new formation.

“I feel like she really supports me well as my third,” McCarville added. “We seem to be talking lots on-and-off the ice and I think everything is going good with us.”

Kelly, who works as a labour relations officer in Fredericton, N.B., has competed against McCarville on multiple occasions at the Scotties over the years and says she really appreciates their honesty with each other now that she’s part of the team.

“One thing I’ve complimented them on this year is their ability to be really honest with each other when they need to be and I’ve admired that about them,” said Kelly. “We’re not trying to protect anybody’s feelings because we all are truly working towards the same goal, so if something has to be said, it can be said and it can be taken the right way on this team. I’ve appreciated that about them.”

During their past multiple Scotties runs, Team McCarville have become one of the most popular rinks in curling.

Kelly says the team has a great balance between competitiveness and appreciating all the various moments you experience at the Scotties.

“Curling is something we love to do, it’s not our everything,” said McCarville. “We love to do it and we’re pretty good at it. We just like to have a little bit of fun. We’re goofy here and there and we like to show our fans and the people on the outs, who we are. We’re not just those serious people on the ice.”

That popularity is making grocery outings in Thunder Bay take a little while longer, however.

“I find at the Superstore, I shop there often, and it seems like I get noticed there often which is kind of funny,” said McCarville.   

The 2025 Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be held in McCarville’s hometown of Thunder Bay.