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Newfoundland and Labrador latest to decide Scotties qualifier; Saskatchewan provincials begin Friday

Barker, Holland, Newkirk all set to begin quest for provincial gold and spot in 2020 Scotties at home
And then there were six.

The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts women’s national curling championship continued to fill out this past weekend as Newfoundland and Labrador became the latest province to determine their representative for the event, taking place Feb. 14-23 at Mosaic Place in Moose Jaw.

Erica Curtis and her St. John’s Curling Club rink of third Erin Porter, second Julie Devereaux and lead Beth Hamilton recorded three straight victories through a pair of tiebreakers and the championship final to earn the provincial title.

After finishing in a three-way tie for second in the round robin at 3-2, Curtis defeated defending champion Kelli Sharpe 10-6 in the first tiebreaker before downing perennial contender Heather Strong 7-6 in an extra end to advance to the final.

The Scotties trip will be the first for Curtis as skip after two previous appearances at lead in 2017 and 2018. Porter and Devereaux also played for Curtis at those two tournaments, while Hamilton played second for Sharpe in 2019.

They’ll be joined by Team Canada’s Chelsea Carey, Team Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt, Team Northwest Territories’ Kerry Galusha, Team Nunavut’s Lori Eddy and Team Yukon’s Hailey Birnie in the tournament’s main draw.

Playdowns begin in earnest across Canada this weekend, including Saskatchewan.

The Viterra Scotties championship begins Saturday in Melville and will include rinks skipped by Moose Jaw’s Penny Barker and Amber Holland along with Candice Newkirk playing third for Regina’s Shalon Fleming.

Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also hold their provincial championships this weekend, with B.C., Manitoba, Northern Ontario and Ontario all taking place during the Jan. 28 weekend.

Penny Barker and Amber Holland both received first-round byes at the Viterra Scotties provincial championship.

Barker and her rink of third Deanna Doig, second Christie Gamble and lead Danielle Sicinski earned their spot after winning the Saskatoon Nutana qualifier. Amber Holland and her Regina Callie rink of third and fellow Moose Jaw product Cindy Ricci, second Laura Strong and lead Deb Lozinski finished third in the Canadian Team Ranking System standings, while top qualifier Sherry Anderson of Saskatoon and North Battleford’s Robyn Silvernagle took the other two CTRS spots.

Fleming qualified through the Last Chance tournament and will face Regina’s Lorraine Schneider – who played second on Barker’s 2017 provincial Scotties champions – in her first-round match at 2 p.m. on Friday, with the winner advancing to face Silvernagle in the 7:30 p.m. draw.

Barker will take on the winner of Saskatoon’s Ashley Howard and Regina’s Rae Williamson during the same draw, while Holland will face the winner of Michelle Englot and Mandy Selzer, both of whom hail from Regina.

The 12-team triple-knockout tournament continues throughout the weekend, with the Page playoffs beginning Monday evening, the bronze medal game at 9:30 a.m. and gold medal game at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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