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Scotties, Brier playdowns gear up this week across Canada

Team Rachel Homan Team Rachel Homan - Curling Canada

Qualification for this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier ramps up considerably this week. 

A handful of rinks have already punched their tickets to their respective national championships, but we’ll know a lot more by Sunday night with seven Scotties playdowns and five Brier playdowns taking place this week across the country. 

Let’s take a closer look at who’s playing where and the favourites to advance to the Canadian championship.


Scotties Playdowns 

Qualified Teams: Canada (Kerri Einarson), British Columbia (Clancy Grandy), Alberta (Kayla Skrlik), Quebec (Laurie St-Georges), New Brunswick (Andrea Kelly), Yukon (Hailey Birnie), Northwest Territories (Kerry Galusha), Nunavut (Brigitte MacPhail) 

Nearly half of the field has been determined with the 2023 Scotties Tournament of Hearts taking place Feb. 17-26 in Kamloops, B.C. 

In a week’s time, the entire 18-team field will be confirmed, including the Wild Card rinks determined by the three highest-ranked, unqualified teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS). 



Jan. 25-29 in Estevan
2022 Champion: Penny Barker

Outlook: This year’s Saskatchewan Scotties is anybody game. Team Penny Barker come in as the defending champions and are the highest-ranked team on the CTRS at No. 10. A title defence won’t come easy, however, with the likes of Amber Holland, the 2011 Scotties champion, Ashley Howard and Nancy Martin all having the ability to get to Kamloops. Two-time Saskatchewan champion Robyn Silvernagle has a new squad this season and is also a real threat. But, maybe the most intriguing name is 59-year-old Sherry Anderson, who won a record fifth straight Canadian Senior Curling Championship in December. Anderson has 10 appearances at the Scotties, most recently playing inside the Calgary bubble in 2021.



Jan. 24-29 in East St. Paul 
2022 Champion: Mackenzie Zacharias 


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Outlook: Manitoba continues to be the most competitive province in women’s curling. Mackenzie Zacharias won the event last year and the team improved drastically this off-season with the addition of six-time Scotties champion Jennifer Jones. Then there’s Jones’ former teammate in Kaitlyn Lawes, who is skipping for the first time since junior, as well as two-time Canadian champion Chelsea Carey. Beth Peterson and Darcy Robertson will be in the mix as well. Jones and Lawes are currently ranked third and fourth respectively on the CTRS, so both will likely be on a plane to Kamloops next month either as a provincial champ or Wild Card team. Manitoba’s Team Kerri Einarson is ranked No. 1, but are already qualified as the defending champions. Carey is ranked 25th in the country. 


Northern Ontario 

Jan. 24-29 in Kenora 
2022 Champion: Event cancelled due to COVID-19; awarded to Team Krista McCarville

Outlook: Thunder Bay’s Krista McCarville, a nine-time representative for Northern Ontario at the Scotties, will be the heavy favourites once again. McCarville and company were a win away from winning their first Scotties title last year, but lost to Team Einarson in the final. Krysta Burns, who played in the 2021 Scotties, will likely be McCarville’s toughest competition. This will be the first time this event has been played since 2020 due to the pandemic.



Jan. 23-29 in Port Eglin 
2022 Champion: Rachel Homan won re-scheduled event in April 

Outlook: For the first time since 2020, the Ontario Scotties will determine the province’s representative at the Canadian championship. Last year’s January playdowns were cancelled with Hollie Duncan serving as the provincial rep and Rachel Homan as a Wild Card rink in Thunder Bay. Team Homan won the re-scheduled 2022 event in April. The Ottawa foursome are the favourites to win this year and are currently ranked second on the CTRS, so expect them to be in Kamloops one way or another.  Strong competition should come from Duncan (No. 51), Lauren Mann (No. 21), Carly Howard (No. 18), Danielle Inglis (No. 11) and Isabelle Ladouceur (No. 8). 


Nova Scotia 

Jan. 24-30 in New Glasgow
2022 Champion: Christina Black

Outlook: Defending champion Team Christina Black will once again be the favourites to win this eight-team provincial playdown. Black led Nova Scotia to the Scotties playoffs last year and her team is having another strong season, ranked ninth in Canada. Marlee Powers is the next highest-ranked team in the field at No. 32.


Prince Edward Island 

Jan. 25-29 in Crapaud
2022 Champion: Event cancelled due to COVID-19; awarded to Team Suzanne Birt 

Outlook: PEI is another province that sees its playdowns return after a hiatus. Suzanne Birt has worn Islanders colours at the Scotties 13 times, including four straight years, and it won’t be a surprise to see her do it again in 2023. Only four teams have entered the PEI Scotties this year, with Birt’s squad the highest ranked by far. They sit 26th on the CTRS with Team Melissa Morrow the next highest at 151st.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Jan. 25-29 in St. John’s 
2022 Champion: Event Cancelled due to COVID-19; awarded to Team Sarah Hill

Outlook: Just three teams have signed up for this year's Newfoundland Scotties: Team Stacie Curtis, Team Laura Strong and Team Sarah Hill. All three have prior Tournament of Hearts experience. 


Brier Playdowns

Qualified Teams: Canada (Brad Gushue), British Columbia (Jacques Gauthier), Quebec (Felix Asselin), Yukon (Thomas Scoffin), Nunavut (Jake Higgs)

The 2023 Tim Hortons Brier takes place in London, Ont., from March 3-12. 

Five more provincial reps will be determined this week with the Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Northwest Territories playdowns happening next month. 

The Wild Card rinks will once again be determined by the three highest ranked, unqualified teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System (CTRS).


Northern Ontario

Jan. 24-29 in Kenora 
2022 Champion: Brad Jacobs


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Outlook: This year’s Northern Ontario playdowns definitely has some intriguing storylines. Fourteen-time provincial champion Brad Jacobs announced a break from curling at the end of last season, but has already found his way back onto the pebbled ice as a third for Team Reid Carruthers on the Grand Slam circuit and as a skip of a new foursome for playdowns. Jacobs is the biggest name in the field, but may be in tough to win the Tankard with limited reps this season and a strong squad led by Tanner Horgan, ranked 13th in Canada, hungry to qualify for the Brier. It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.



Jan. 23-29 in Port Elgin 
2022 Champion: Scott Howard

Outlook: The Ontario Tankard is always a fun time. This year shouldn’t be any different. With his father sidelined with a knee injury, Scott Howard skipped his side to a provincial championship last year. Now fully healthy, 60-year-old Glenn Howard will pursue a 19th Tankard victory in Port Elgin. It will be a tall task, however, with nine of the 12-team field ranked in the top-30 in Canada. John Epping sits at No. 7 on the CTRS, followed by Pat Ferris at 12, Sam Mooibroek at 16, Mike McEwen at 17, Jason Camm at 23, Landon Rooney at 25, John Willsey at 26, Howard at 27 and Alex Champ at 30. Look out for Michael Fournier, ranked 37th, who is skipping in Ontario this season after representing Quebec at the Brier three times since 2018.  


Nova Scotia 

Jan. 24-30 in New Glasgow
2022 Champion: Event cancelled due to COVID-19; awarded to Team Paul Flemming

Outlook: Paul Flemming has represented the bluenosers at three straight Briers and could do it again with another provincial victory. Owen Purcell might have something to say about that, however. The 22-year-old is fresh off skipping his university team to a dramatic bronze medal victory at the 2023 Lake Placid FISU World University Games last week with a dramatic game-winner. Purcell and second Adam McEachren also won bronze at the 2022 World Junior Curling Championship. His tour team is having a pretty good 2022-23 season as well and are ranked 18th in Canada, the highest in the Nova Scotia field. Travis Colter and Stuart Thompson should be factors as well.


Prince Edward Island 

Jan. 25-29 in Crapaud
2022 Champion: Event cancelled due to COVID-19; awarded to Team Tyler Smith

Outlook: Adam Casey, who has an impressive nine Brier appearances with four different provinces, is back home this season, playing with fan favourite Craig Savill. At 98th, they are the highest-ranked team in the field which includes the likes of Tyler Smith, Darren Higgins and Bryan Cochrane.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Jan. 24-29 in St. John’s 
2022 Champion: Nathan Young

Outlook: Nathan Young defeated Greg Smith in last year’s provincial final and the two sides could be destined to meet there again in 2023.