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Feb 16, 2021

Eighteen teams ready to rumble for Scotties title inside Calgary curling bubble

The NHL, NBA and WNBA got it done in the summer. Then the World Juniors followed suit over the holidays. The Australian Open is finding its way as well. Now, it’s curling’s turn to enter the bubble. It all starts on Friday. Here's TSN.ca's preview of the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

Scotties Tournament of Hearts: Final - Ontario 7, Manitoba 8 (11)

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Ryan Horne, TSN.ca 

The NHL, NBA and WNBA got it done in the summer. Then the World Juniors followed suit over the holidays. The Australian Open is finding its way as well. Now, it’s curling’s turn to enter the bubble.

Some of the greatest granite throwers in Canada will call Calgary their home for the next few months as the Season of Champions is set to take place inside the fan-less hub city environment.

In an unprecedented move, Curling Canada made the bold decision to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Tim Hortons Brier, Canadian Mixed Doubles Championship as well as World Men’s Curling Championship all in one location – the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park – to keep everyone as safe as possible amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

Curlers need a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure for Calgary and will be tested again upon arrival. Competitors are only permitted to be inside their hotel rooms and the rink in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

First up is the Scotties taking place from Feb. 19-28. The opening draw is Friday night at 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt on TSN1 and streaming on TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct. 

It’s safe to say just about every team will be rusty coming in. A small handful of events were played in the fall before the second wave of the pandemic hit. Once cases began to rise across much of Canada, the curling season came to an abrupt standstill.

Most curling associations weren’t even able to host their provincial playdowns, meaning last year’s winners got automatic entries to the national championships in some cases. As a result, this year’s field at both the Scotties and Brier will have 18 teams, including three Wild Card rinks determined by the Canadian Team Ranking System. Teams that didn’t have at least three returning players from last season are not eligible to qualify as a Wild Card team, meaning Robyn Silvernagle and Kelsey Rocque will be watching the Scotties from home this season. Furthermore, a whopping five teams from Manitoba will compete at the Calgary Scotties, including 2020 world junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias and 12th-ranked Beth Peterson.

The teams will be split into two pools of nine where an eight-game round robin will occur. From there, the top four teams in each pool will carry their records to the championship pool where they will play more four games against teams in the opposing pool. 

The most notable change to this year's Scotties format is that there will be no page playoff. Instead, the top three teams following championship pool play will advance to the playoffs with the top ranked team getting an automatic entry to the championship game. The other two squads will battle in the semifinals. 

Check out the broadcast schedule, HERE

A grand prize of $100,000 goes to the last rink standing with the winners (if not already qualified) also earning a spot in the 2021 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials. They will also represent Team Canada at next year's Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay. 

This year’s Season of Champions will surely have a different look and feel, but most fans and players are simply happy that there’s curling to be played at all.

Let’s check out who will be competing at the 2021 Canadian women’s curling championship.

*NOTE: Skip Apps - Numbers of career Scotties appearances for the skip heading into this year's event. 

 

Pool A

Team Manitoba's Kerri Einarson, Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and, Briane Meilleur
Canada (Team Einarson)

Gimli Curling Club (Gimli, Man)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    1
  • Canadian Ranking
    1
  • Skip Apps*
    3
  • 2020-21 Record
    1-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Kerri Einarson Third: Val Sweeting Second: Shannon Birchard Lead: Briane Meilleur Alternate: Krysten Karwacki Coach: Heather Nedohin

 

Kerri Einarson and her team of former skips reached the top of the Canadian curling mountain last year after their dramatic victory over Ontario’s Team Rachel Homan in the final. Einarson drew to the button in the extra end to capture her first Canadian championship, but it was her shot in the sixth which was the real TSN Turning Point and maybe the shot of the season.

The win also marked the first Scotties title for third Val Sweeting following a handful of heartbreaking losses. Einarson and company missed out on their opportunity to represent Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship in Prince George, B.C., and hope to get back to wear the Red and White. However, this year's women's worlds, originally scheduled to take place in Schaffhausen, Switzerland from March 19-28, has already been cancelled. They’ve only played one game in the 2020-21 season, the opener of the Okotoks Ladies Classic before it was cancelled due to new COVID restrictions in Alberta. The last team to win back-to-back Scotties was Team Homan in 2013 and 2014. The No. 1 rink in Canada is fully capable of doing the same.

Team Rachel Homan
Ontario (Team Homan)

Ottawa Curling Club

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    4
  • Canadian Ranking
    4
  • Skip Apps
    7
  • 2020-21 Record
    1-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Rachel Homan Third: Emma Miskew Second: Sarah Wilkes Lead: Joanne Courtney Alternate: Danielle Inglis Coach: Randy Ferbey

 

Rachel Homan and her Ottawa rink have lost the last two Scotties finals in heartbreaking fashion. Due to the pandemic, Team Homan have yet to get much action on the pebbled ice with their new second Sarah Wilkes, who replaced long-time lead Lisa Weagle this off-season in a somewhat shocking swap.

Their lone game was a blowout win over Team Jennifer Jones at the Okotoks bonspiel before it got the axe. It will be interesting to see how quickly this new-look team finds their groove inside the bubble. Homan, a three-time Canadian champion, will be seven months pregnant during the Scotties. Team Homan, who have already qualified for the 2021 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, are always a top contender. This year won’t be any different.

Team Laura Walker
Alberta (Team Walker)

Saville Community Sports Centre (Edmonton)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    5
  • Canadian Ranking
    7
  • Skip Apps
    1
  • 2020-21 Record
    1-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Laura Walker Third: Kate Cameron Second: Taylor McDonald Lead: Rachel Brown Alternate: Dana Ferguson Coach: Shannon Pynn

 

In her Scotties debut, Laura Walker, 30, and her Edmonton foursome got off to a hot start at last year’s national championship, taking care of business against lower-ranked teams and winning their first three contests. However, it was a different story when they faced notable names such as Kerri Einarson and Chelsea Carey. Team Walker dropped their next four and missed the championship pool. They’ve only played one game this season after the Okotoks Ladies Classic was cancelled due to new restrictions. 2019 Scotties champ Rachel Brown will play lead for Team Walker as regular front end thrower Nadine Scotland is not attending as she is pregnant and due in August. Brown's longtime teammate Dana Ferguson is also attending as an alternate. Team Walker’s success at this year’s tourney will determined by how they fare against the elite squads.

Team Mackenzie Zacharias
Wild Card 2 (Team Zacharias)

Altona Curling Club (Altona, Man.)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    8
  • Canadian Ranking
    11
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 2020-21 Record
    8-3

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Mackenzie Zacharias Third: Karlee Burgess Second: Emily Zacharias Lead: Lauren Lenentine Alternate: Rachel Erickson Coach: Sheldon Zacharias

 

In early 2020, before the world came to a halt due to COVID-19, 20-year-old Mackenzie Zacharias (now 21) and her Winnipeg teammates stood atop the podiums at both the Canadian and world junior championships. Just over a year later, they’ll be competing in their first Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Team Zacharias will be one of three wild-card rinks in Calgary and one of five Manitoba teams.

In late October, Zacharias defeated Darcy Robertson in the final of the Atkins Curling Supplies Classic final, a week after losing to her in the final of another bonspiel on the World Curling Tour. Team Zacharias might have little inexperience on the top circuit, but their No. 11 ranking in Canada proves they belong in Calgary. It will be interesting to see what this intriguing young team can do.

Team Beth Peterson
Wild Card 3 (Team Peterson)

Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club (Winnipeg)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    9
  • Canadian Ranking
    12
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 2020-21 Record
    4-4

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Beth Peterson Third: Jenna Loder Second: Katherine Doerksen Lead: Brittany Tran Alternate: Cathy Overton-Clapham

 

After Manitoba cancelled their playdowns on Dec. 21, Team Peterson tweeted out “well, the season was enjoyable while it lasted! Hoping for a safe @CurlingCanada bubble for all the teams going! Planning for the 2021-2022 season begins.” Team Peterson spoke too soon as their season is far from over. With 18 teams competing at this year’s Scotties and a few notable rinks ineligible to represent a wild-card team, the 26-year-old Peterson and her crew are headed to the bubble thanks to their strong ranking on the CTRS.

This will be the first Scotties for all four members of the team who are in their third season together on the WCT. With the format likely going back to normal next year, it will be more of a challenge for Team Peterson to get out of the powerhouse curling province that is Manitoba in the future. Will they take advantage of this unexpected opportunity? 

Kerry Galusha
Northwest Territories (Team Galusha)

Yellowknife Curling Centre

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    12
  • Canadian Ranking
    31
  • Skip Apps
    17
  • 2020-21 Record
    3-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Kerry Galusha Third: Jo-Ann Rizzo Second: Margot Flemming Lead: Shona Barbour Coach: Jim Waite

 

Kerry Galusha, 43, is returning to the Tournament of Hearts for a seventh straight year and a remarkable 18th time in her career. Last year in Moose Jaw, Sask., Team Galusha missed out on the championship pool with a 2-5 record. The Yellowknife skip will look to curl .500 or better inside the bubble.

Team Jill Brothers
Nova Scotia (Team Brothers)

Mayflower Curling Club (Halifax)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    13
  • Canadian Ranking
    33
  • Skip Apps
    4
  • 2020-21 Record
    7-3

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Jill Brothers Third: Erin Carmody Second: Jennifer Brine Lead: Emma Logan Alternate: Kim Kelly Coach: Daryell Nowlan

 

Team Jill Brothers got the invite from the Nova Scotia Curling Association and the 37-year-old skip will make her fifth appearance at the Tournament of Hearts. Brothers’ best result came at the 2016 Scotties in Grande Prairie, Alta., finishing with a 6-5 record. The rink from the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax is 7-3 on the shortened season, having won a bonspiel in early November after beating Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt in the championship game. Emma Logan, who played lead for Mary-Anne Arsenault at last year's event, is with the team this year. Team Brothers went 2-5 at the 2019 Scotties, but there’s a good chance they improve this time around and be in contention for the championship pool.

Team Krysta Burns
Northern Ontario (Team Burns)

Idylwylde Golf & Country Club (Sudbury)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    16
  • Canadian Ranking
    112
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 2020-21 Record
    0-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Krysta Burns Third: Megan Smith Second: Sara Guy Lead: Amanda Gates Alternate: Kira Brunton Coach: Rodney Guy

 

Krysta Burns fell to Krista McCarville in last year’s provincial final and will now represent the association at the Scotties in 2021 after McCarville’s Thunder Bay squad declined the invite due to travel restrictions as well as family and work commitments. This will be Burns, 24, first appearance under the bright lights of the Tournament of Hearts. However, their lead, Amanda Gates, has been to The Show three times. Team McCarville will be the favourites to represent Northern Ontario at the Thunder Bay Scotties in 2021. For now, let’s see what the future of NOCA looks like inside the Calgary curling bubble. 

Team Laura Eby
Yukon (Team Eby)

Whitehorse Curling Club

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    17
  • Canadian Ranking
    Not ranked
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 2020-21 Record
    3-2

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Laura Eby Third: Lorna Spenner Second: Tamar Vandenberghe Lead: Laura Williamson Alternate: Darlene Gammel Coach: Scott Williamson

 

In the Yukon playdowns Team Laura Eby defeated Team Patty Wallingham 3-2 in a best-of-five series as Whitehorse rink will compete at their first Scotties. At the 2020 event, Yukon was led by Hailey Birnie and went winless at 0-7.

Pool B

Team Tracy Fleury
Wild Card 1 (Team Fleury)

East St. Paul Curling Club (East St. Paul , Man)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    2
  • Canadian Ranking
    2
  • Skip Apps
    5
  • 2020-21 Record
    0-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Chelsea Carey Third: Selena Njegovan Second: Liz Fyfe Lead: Kristin MacCuish Alternate: Clancy Grandy Coach: Sherry Middaugh

 

Two-time Canadian champion Chelsea Carey will skip this squad in Calgary as Tracy Fleury will stay home to look after her young daughter, Nina, who is receiving treatment for a medical condition. Carey, 36, was a free agent after her team disbanded following the Scotties last season.

Despite losing in last year’s Wild Card game to Team Jennifer Jones, Team Fleury had a very solid 2019-20 season, highlighted by the skip’s first Grand Slam victory at the Masters. That win plus a slew of other strong finishes has Team Fleury ranked second in Canada and first up to claim one of the three wild-card spots. Furthermore, the Manitoba rink added Sherry Middaugh to the fold for this season as a coach. With no do-or-die game to worry about and an experienced skip throwing last rocks, Wild Card No. 1 will be a playoff contender in Calgary. By the way, both of Carey's Scotties titles have come during her first year with a new foursome. 

Team Jennifer Jones
Manitoba (Team Jones)

St. Vital Curling Club (Winnipeg)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    3
  • Canadian Ranking
    3
  • Skip Apps
    15
  • 2020-21 Record
    9-3

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Jennifer Jones Third: Kaitlyn Lawes Second: Jocelyn Peterman Lead: Lisa Weagle Alternate: Raunora Westcott Coach: Viktor Kjell

 

Jennifer Jones will compete in her 16th Scotties, this time inside the Calgary bubble. The six-time Canadian champion earned the nod due to the fact she was the runner-up to 2020 Scotties champ Kerri Einarson in last year’s Manitoba final. Jones added Lisa Weagle this off-season after she was let go from Rachel Homan’s squad and will play a pivotal role in Calgary. People wondered how a five-person team would operate at a major event at the time of the move, but regular lead Dawn McEwen will not attend this year’s Scotties as she’s pregnant. The Winnipeg rink captured the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard in early October before losing in the final of the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard a week later. Jones lost 8-3 to Homan in last year’s Scotties semi-final. A seventh Scotties title for Jones would break the tie with Nova Scotia curling legend Colleen Jones for most all-time. Will history happen in the bubble?

Team Corryn Brown
British Columbia (Team Brown)

McArthur Island Curling Club (Kamloops)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    6
  • Canadian Ranking
    8
  • Skip Apps
    1
  • 2020-21 Record
    5-1

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Corryn Brown Third: Erin Pincott Second: Dezaray Hawes Lead: Samantha Fisher Alternate: Stephanie Jackson-Baier Coach: Allison MacInnes

 

Corryn Brown is headed to a second straight Scotties after British Columbia were also forced to cancel playdowns. Team Brown finished with a 6-5 record last year in Moose Jaw, Sask., in their first national championship. Samantha Fisher replaced Ashley Klymchuk at front end for this season.

The Kamloops rink are one of the few to get some real playing time in this season, winning the James Kelowna Double Cash in November. Brown and third Erin Pincott have known each other since they were six years old and have played together for nearly two decades. Let’s see if Team Brown can take another step forward at this year’s Scotties. They’ll be in the mix late in the week as contenders if everything goes to plan.

Team Suzanne Birt
Prince Edward Island (Team Birt)

Montague Curling Club and Cornwall Curling Club

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    7
  • Canadian Ranking
    9
  • Skip Apps
    11
  • 2020-21 Record
    11-4

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Suzanne Birt Third: Marie Christianson Second: Meaghan Hughes Lead: Michelle McQuaid Alternate: Kathy O’Rourke Coach: Mitch O’Shea

 

In one of the few playdowns to actually be played, Suzanne Birt’s Charlottetown rink swept Team Darlene London in a best-of-five series at the Maple Leaf Curling Club in O’Leary. Birt, 39, has repped the Islanders at the past two national championships, making the championship pool each time. The two-time Canadian junior champ’s best finish at the Scotties was in 2003 when she captured the bronze medal in Kitchener, Ont. Birt is always in the mix at nationals despite playing a limited schedule during the season. With every team playing just a handful of games this year, can Birt make a run? 

Team Sherry Anderson
Saskatchewan (Team Anderson)

Nutana Curling Club (Saskatoon)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    10
  • Canadian Ranking
    14
  • Skip Apps
    9
  • 2020-21 Record
    8-4

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Sherry Anderson Third: Nancy Martin Second: Chaelynn Kitz Lead: Breanne Knapp Alternate: Amber Holland Coach: Shane Kitz

 

Sherry Anderson and her Saskatoon rink have been runners-up at the past two Saskatchewan provincials and will now wear the Green and White inside the Calgary bubble in February. Robyn Silvernagle, who has skipped Saskatchewan at the last two Scotties, has two new players on her squad this season, meaning she was ineligible to receive an automatic entry as the defending champ. CURLSASK used results from the past two seasons to make their decision. The 57-year-old Anderson is no newcomer when it comes to elite-level curling as this will be her 10th career appearance at the Scotties and first since 2018. Career accomplishments include silver at the 2002 Scotties, silver at the 2001 Canadian Olympic Trials as well as gold at the 2018 and 2019 World Senior Curling Championships. All things considered, Team Anderson have a fair number of games under their belts this season, holding an 8-4 record through three events. Saskatchewan won’t be top contenders at the Scotties but will be a tough out.

Team Laurie St-Georges
Quebec (Team St-Georges)

Laval-sur-le-Lac/Glenmore (Laval)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    11
  • Canadian Ranking
    28
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 2020-21 Record
    0-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Laurie St-Georges Third: Hailey Armstrong Second: Emily Riley Lead: Cynthia St-Georges Alternate: Florence Boivin Coach: Michel St-Georges

 

Team Laurie St-Georges will make their first appearance at nationals after Curling Quebec selected them to represent La Belle Province. The foursome fell to Team Noémie Verreault in the 2020 Quebec Scotties final. As another first-year team, St-Georges will be in tough at the Scotties but getting this type of experience can only help to advance their curling careers.

Team Melissa Adams
New Brunswick (Team Adams)

Capital Winter Club (Fredericton)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    14
  • Canadian Ranking
    Not ranked
  • Skip Apps
    3
  • 2020-21 Record
    2-2

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Melissa Adams Third: Jaclyn Tingley Second: Nicole Bishop Lead: Kendra Lister Alternate: Monique Masse

 

Following the cancellation of the New Brunswick Scotties, defending champions Team Andrea Crawford was forced to decline their invite due to work and family commitments. Going in their place will be Team Melissa Adams. The 42-year-old skip last competed at the Tournament of Hears in 2018 as a third for Sylvie Robichaud. Nicole Bishop and Kendra Lister were on that squad as well but missed out on the championship pool. Adams won the Canadian and world junior championship back in 1998.

Team Lori Eddy
Nunavut (Team Eddy)

Iqaluit Curling Club

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    15
  • Canadian Ranking
    100
  • Skip Apps
    2
  • 2020-21 Record
    0-0

Scotties Outlook

 

Skip: Lori Eddy Third: Sadie Pinksen Second: Alison Griffin Lead: Kaitlin MacDonald Coach: Donalda Mattie

 

Lori Eddy will compete in her third career Tournament of Hearts and the second consecutive. As a third for Alison Goring, Eddy captured the silver medal at the 1997 Canadian championship. Over 20 years later, Eddy returned to the elite bonspiel last year, this time as a skip for Nunavut. Eddy, as the team’s lone import player, led the territory to an impressive 2-5 record, highlighted by a surprise win over Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville. Another performance like that would be a solid showing for the territory.

Sarah Hill
Newfoundland and Labrador (Team Hill)

Re/Max Centre (St. John's)

By The Numbers

  • Scotties Ranking
    18
  • Canadian Ranking
    Not ranked
  • Skip Apps
    0
  • 202-21 Record
    3-1

Scotties Outlook

 

 

Skip: Sarah Hill Third: Beth Hamilton Second: Lauren Barron Lead: Adrienne Mercer Alternate: Brooke Godsland

 

Sarah Hill and her rink from The Rock are headed to the Canadian championship after besting Team McKenzie Mitchell in a best-of-five series. It will be the first Scotties for Hill, but vice Beth Hamilton has been to three career national championships, including the last two as a lead for Team Erica Curtis. Team Curtis were forced to pull out of the Newfoundland Scotties this year due to “travel related isolation requirements” and their employment as health care workers. Team Curtis finished with a 1-6 record at the Moose Jaw Scotties in 2020. Team Hill will aim to pick up at least a couple wins in Calgary.