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Dominant Team Homan ‘firing on all cylinders’ as Scotties playoffs near

Rachel Homan Rachel Homan - The Canadian Press

CALGARY – As the round-robin portion of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts wraps up on Thursday, the contenders are starting to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

Canada’s Kerri Einarson, Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones and Alberta’s Selena Sturmay have made plenty of noise, but they’re all chasing one foursome that have put together one of the most dominant curling seasons in recent memory.

Ontario’s Team Rachel Homan were the only team in Calgary to win all eight of their games in the preliminary round. They’re leading all major statistical categories, including point differential (+40), stolen ends (14) and team shooting percentage (89 per cent).

Homan is shooting 91 for the tournament, nine points better than Einarson, who owns the second-best shooting percentage amongst skips. Homan shot a perfect game against British Columbia on Wednesday, the only last-rock thrower to accomplish that feat this week.

“Everyone is feeling really good. Rachel is seeing the ice really well and she’s throwing the rock really well,” second Emma Miskew told following a win over New Brunswick Thursday morning. “It’s nice to know that whatever shot we want to play, we can give it a go.”

In the third end against New Brunswick, Homan elected to make a tough split for two rather than a simpler draw for one, a good indication of how well she’s seeing the ice.

“I think we’ve played a lot of games here and the lines are really consistent, so we’re getting a good read of the ice and the icemaker is doing a good job of making the lines consistent,” said Homan, who has started to lose her voice over the past couple days. “It feels like it’s a makeable shot for us.”

Team Homan’s play at WinSport Arena has been a microcosm of their season.

The rink out of Ottawa Curling Club – also featuring third Tracy Fleury and lead Sarah Wilkes – have posted a 46-5 record with five wins in seven events, highlighted by back-to-back Grand Slam victories entering the Tournament of Hearts. They are ranked first in Canada, owning 73 more points than second-ranked Team Jones.

“They’re firing on all cylinders right now,” said Don Bartlett, who joined Team Homan this season after a long stint with Team Brendan Bottcher.

Their strong play has earned them the top seed in Pool B and an “extra life” in the playoffs. Team Homan will take on Team Einarson, the second-place finisher in Pool B, during Friday’s page seeding round. A win in that contest will send them to the 1 vs. 2-page playoff game while a loss will have them play in the 3 vs. 4 qualifier.  

“Everyone here is just a phenomenal curler and you got to make everything to get a lead on anyone,” Homan said of this year’s field. “You just got to keep playing our game. Once playoff starts, you don’t have too many lives left. You can’t waver in playoffs that’s for sure, you just got to keep getting stronger.”

After winning three Scotties titles over five years, Homan hasn’t stood atop the podium at the Canadian women’s curling championship since 2017, losing in the gold-medal game three straight years from 2019 to 2021.

Homan, who is making her 10th career Scotties appearance, says the recent shortcomings in the Scotties playoffs don’t weigh on her mind.

“We’ve had a lot of success over the years and lots of life stuff that’s happened,” she said. “I’m super proud of all of our accomplishments and getting to the Scotties so many times is a huge accomplishment and we’re hoping to do one better this year.”

Homan is the mother to three young children, four-year-old Ryatt, two-year-old Bowyn, and six-month-old Briggs. During post-game media availabilities, Homan stopped to fawn over Fleury’s three-year-old daughter, Nina.

Enjoying every moment, says Homan, is a new perspective she’s paid more attention to over the years.

“I think just really enjoying the moment. You never know when it’s going to be your last go and just having that gratitude for getting to do what we love,” said the skip. “And having the support to allow us to grow our families and still be able to compete at a high level.”

Team Homan is hoping for a few more memorable on-ice moments this weekend in Calgary as the playoffs ramp up at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.