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Alberta, Manitoba only unbeaten teams after Scotties Draw 6

Five team log-jam at 2-1 highlights Pool B after wins by Manitoba, Canada, Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia
It doesn’t matter how many times you face it, throwing last rock with the game on the line is always a bit of a stressful situation.

Doing so at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts? That’s something different altogether, but when you’ve been there as many times as Manitoba’s Keri Einarson has been over the last few years, you find a way to handle it.

Einarson executed a near-perfect take-out to score two on her final shot against Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville and take an 8-7 win in a battle of unbeatens Monday morning.

“You always have those nerves, but all that matters is you control them,” Einarson said. “I had just played it so I thought I was going to be really close and it worked out.”

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur found themselves trailing 5-4 heading into the eighth end but picked up an important deuce to get take the lead. McCarville got that one back in the ninth, setting up the final frame.

“It was a close one and it could have gone either way,” McCarville said. “With them being undefeated and us being undefeated, both teams really wanted this one and it just worked out better for them.”

That was much the same assessment Einarson carried after the close battle.

”Both teams had our opportunities and we made some good shots to get their deuces and so did they… that game could have went either way and they were really putting pressure on us and we were putting pressure on them, too,” she said. “Krista and their team played really well.”

Manitoba improved to 3-0 and sit tied with Alberta’s Laura Walker, also 3-0, for first in Pool A.

Northern Ontario fell to 2-1 and is in a three-way tie for third.

McCarville was right back on the ice against Quebec in the afternoon draw, while Manitoba takes on Team Canada.

Quebec’s Noemie Verreault might find herself winless through the first three draws, but it most certainly isn’t for a lack of effort.

Their game against Team Canada’s Chelsea Carey offered the latest example, with the contest going to an extra end before Carey emerged with a 9-7 victory.
“It’s a battle, we got ourselves in a bit of a hole early based on one missed shot, that happens and you gotta kind of fight it out and keep patient,” said Carey, taking the ice with third Sarah Wilkes, second Dana Ferguson and lead Rachel Brown. “They made lots of shots and kept bringing it and we made enough shots to pull it off in the end.”

Verreault, third Alanna Routledge, second Marie-Pier Cote and lead Jill Routledge took a 3-0 lead out of the first end and by the sixth carried a 6-4 edge. Carey would start to chip away in the seventh, though, scoring points in three straight ends to lead 9-8 heading into the 10th. Canada was able to hold Quebec to one, setting up the extra frame.

“It was a good feeling, we don’t have any pressure so we have to play rock by rock and end by end,” Verreault said. “Honestly, right here I’m a little disappointed because we had a real, real good game. But we’re so proud to [be that close]. We played well, we were in it all game and had them on their toes.”

Carey was impressed with what she saw from Quebec, but not surprised in the least.

“They have nothing to lose, so they come out and play loose against Team Canada, and we knew that going in,” she said. “Then they put a million rocks in play since they know they’re the underdog. We knew they were going to play well and they did so that wasn’t surprising.”

Canada improved to 2-1 and sits in the three-way tie for second in Pool B.

Nova Scotia’s Mary-Anne Arsenault is once again back in contention at the Scotties.

The 14-time national women’s curling championship contender picked up a 10-4 win over Yukon’s Hailey Birnie, improving to 2-1 and moving into a five-team log jam in first place in Pool B.

“We kind of needed that to get back on track and with the short round robin you can’t afford to drop any games,” said Arsenault, playing with third Christina Black, second Jenn Baxter and lead Emma Logan. “So being 2-1, we’ll be looking to do well in our next one as well and look better heading into the third day.”

Fifth Kristin Clarke also saw action for Nova Scotia, playing the final four ends.

Arsenault got off to as hot a start as possible against Birnie, Chelsea Duncan, second Gabrielle Plonka and lead Kimberly Tuor, scoring two in the second and proceeding to steal six over the next three ends for an 7-0 lead. The teams exchanged deuces the next three ends as Birnie closed to 9-4 deficit, but after an Arsenault single in the ninth, the two teams shook hands.

Arsenault aims to draw on her wealth of experience going forward to help stay in contention.

“We work a lot on communication and just the shot at hand and not looking back,” she said. “I think I fortunately have an innate ability to stay focussed on the task at hand and hopefully that rubs off on the players as well.”

Birnie remains winless at 0-3.

Nova Scotia was back on the ice against Newfoundland in the afternoon draw, Yukon took on Northwest Territories.

Northwest Territories skip Kerry Galusha might be battling a lower back / upper leg injury at this year’s Scotties, but that didn’t seem to be a problem Monday morning.

Galusha – who throws second due to the injury – fourth Jo-Ann Rizzo, third Sarah Kolton and lead Shona Barbour roared out to an 8-0 lead by four ends against Newfoundland and Labrador’s  Erica Curtis, added two in six and four more in seven to take a 14-2 victory.

The win was the first for Galusha, who now sits at 1-2 in Pool B.

“It’s tough for our team because we live in all different places, we haven’t curled together since territorials,” she said. “This is an all new line-up, so our first two games we just weren’t communicating like we wanted to and were missed shot just due to communication. So we sat down last night and we wanted to get back to where we were at territorials and we did that.

“It felt better today, I was more of a leader for the girls and that was by far our best game,” Galusha added. “That’s the team I know, our first two games were disappointing for us and we just wanted to have a better day.”

Curtis, third Erin Porter, second Julie Devereaux and lead Beth Hamilton also sit at 1-2.

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