Strong goes for title No. 10

Kenn Oliver
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Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial championship begins today in St. John's

If you have captured nine provincial championships, you'd have problems keeping them all straight too.

"We're supposed to take things one game at a time, the past is the past," says Heather Strong, the defending provincial women's curling champ.

"But I think I do that so literally sometimes it's scary. I have no ability to separate one year from the next, they're all in the same vault."

If you have captured nine provincial championships, you'd have problems keeping them all straight too.

"We're supposed to take things one game at a time, the past is the past," says Heather Strong, the defending provincial women's curling champ.

"But I think I do that so literally sometimes it's scary. I have no ability to separate one year from the next, they're all in the same vault."

Strong and her rink of third Cathy Cunningham, second Peg Goss and lead Laura Strong will have a chance to add another memory when they begin a defence of their title today as the Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial championships begin on the team's home ice, the Re/Max Centre (St. John's Curling Club).

Strong was a perfect 6-0 at last year's event at Bally Haly, edging clubmate Michelle Jewer 8-6 to capture her fifth straight provincial crown.

But capturing a sixth consecutive and the 10th overall will require Strong and company to play through a stronger field than in years past.

"I'm familiar with all the team and most of them have been intact for several years now and have been building up each year they play together," says Strong says.

One team which always poses a threat is the Shelley Nichols rink.

"We had a great game against them last year in the round robin and I'm looking forward to playing them again," Strong says of the team of Collette Lemon, Ronda Rogers, Steph Ledrew and Nichols, which lost to Strong in the 2007 championship match.

Another team Strong expects to challenge for the crown is the Stacie Devereaux foursome. In a cashspiel meeting earlier this season, Devereaux, lead Heather Martin, second Sarah Paul, and third Stephanie Guzzwell got the best of the experienced Strong team.

"That was our first loss to a (Newfoundland) women's rink in a couple of years," notes Strong.

In fact, both Nichols (Re/Max SuperLeague) and Devereaux (Bally Haly SuperLeague) have posted better local league records than Strong's rink. But Strong maintains the slow start is the direct result of more experimentation on the ice.

At last year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts Canadian championship, Strong's rink failed to make the playoff round after going 5-6 in the round robin. Following that event, the team took stock of where they could improve their game.

"Last year, we came second (in the Re/Max SuperLeague), the highest a female team has ever placed. We didn't go in this year to better our record, we went in to experiment with strategy and shots. More practice than competition."

Strong and company, who normally play a hit game with plenty room in the house, are now trying to keep more stones in.

"We've made a conscious decision to put more in play and experiment generating bigger ends. When you do that, you can often give up a big end as well, but we were willing to take that risk this year."

Four other St. John's-based teams will compete in the event which features two draws daily. Tie-breakers, if necessary, and semifinal matches will be played Saturday with the championship match on Sunday.

The winner represents the province at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sault Ste. Marie, Jan. 30 to Feb. 7.

koliver@thetelegram.com




TOURNAMENT OF HEART ENTRIES

Rinks competing in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship, beginning today at the Re/Max Centre in St. John's:
Rinks from the Re/Max Centre (St. John's Curling Club)
Skip: Heather Strong, Cathy Cunningham (third), Peg Goss (second), Laura Strong (lead)
Skip: Laura Phillips, Dianne Ryan (third), Marion Dawe (second), Jeannette Hodder (lead)
Skip: Shelley Nichols, Steph LeDrew (third), Ronda Rogers (second), Collette Lemon (lead)
Skip: Susan Hannan, Amy McIntyre (third), Paula French (second), Lacey Semone (lead)
Rinks from Bally Haly Golf Curling Club
Skip: Cindy Miller, Beth Hamilton (third), Noelle Thomas (second), Adrienne Mercer (lead)
Skip: Stacie Devereaux, Stephanie Guzzwell (third), Sarah Paul (second), Heather Martin (lead)

Organizations: Max Centre, Curling Club

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, Sault Ste. Marie

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Recent comments

  • CurlingFan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Team Strong has done well at the Provincial Scotties, however, cannot seem to play well at the National level.

    And what's with the excuse of their poor record in the Super League... We didn't go in this year to better our record, we went in to experiment with strategy and shots. More practice than competition Isn't the purpose to win and get stronger. Obviously, the practice isn't working if they are losing in Super League and on the women's world curling tour.

    They have been a good team, but it is time for a change. Team Nichols is the future of women's curling in NL!

    Go Team Nichols Go!

  • Paul
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Looking at the list of teams here, I would have to say the team of the future of NL women's curling is that of Stacie Devereaux, Stephanie Guzzwell (third), Sarah Paul (second), Heather Martin (lead).

    They have a proven track record and while they might not make it this time around, expect them to be representing NL in the future.

  • CurlingFan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Team Strong has done well at the Provincial Scotties, however, cannot seem to play well at the National level.

    And what's with the excuse of their poor record in the Super League... We didn't go in this year to better our record, we went in to experiment with strategy and shots. More practice than competition Isn't the purpose to win and get stronger. Obviously, the practice isn't working if they are losing in Super League and on the women's world curling tour.

    They have been a good team, but it is time for a change. Team Nichols is the future of women's curling in NL!

    Go Team Nichols Go!

  • Paul
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Looking at the list of teams here, I would have to say the team of the future of NL women's curling is that of Stacie Devereaux, Stephanie Guzzwell (third), Sarah Paul (second), Heather Martin (lead).

    They have a proven track record and while they might not make it this time around, expect them to be representing NL in the future.