Stacie Curtis has five provincial women’s championships, and four junior women’s titles to her credit, not to mention a world junior silver medal, but it was some additional ice time this year that she says put her team over the top in the latest Scotties Tournament of Hearts Newfoundland and Labrador women’s curling championship.
“We had a little bit of success as a team this year outside the province, and that certainly helped us,” she said after winning her third straight all-Newfoundland crown Sunday morning.
“We probably had more games played this year than all the other teams. And that makes a difference.”
Curtis, Erin Porter, Julie Devereaux, Carrie Vautour and fifth Erica Trickett earned their third straight trip to the national Scotties later this month, beating Heather Strong twice at the Re/Max Centre-St. John’s Curling Club.
Trickett actually played lead in the provincials due to an injury to Vautour. All five are going to the nationals.
"I do know we didn’t look ahead, didn’t think about having to win two straight. We just looked at it as an opportunity to keep the week going, to keep our chances at curling in the nationals alive.”
Strong and her team of Brooke Godsland, Sarah Paul and Kathryn Cooper, were 6-0 after the round-robin in the seven-team field, and therefore had to beaten twice to be denied the title.
Curtis, who finished 5-1, beat up on Strong 8-1 in five ends Saturday night, forcing a deciding game Sunday morning.
The result was another blowout in favour of Curtis – the final score was 7-1 – but the game was actually tied 1-1 after seven ends. Curtis scored two in the eighth, and punched her ticket to Penticton, B.C., and the nationals Jan. 27-Feb. 4 with a steal of four in the seventh.
“That first game (of the final, Saturday night), we had the benefit of coming off a semifinal while Heather hadn’t played since Friday,” Curtis said. “I think that made a difference.
“But I do know we didn’t look ahead, didn’t think about having to win two straight. We just looked at it as an opportunity to keep the week going, to keep our chances at curling in the nationals alive.”
The Curtis team was positively dominant in the playoffs. In addition to the pair of wins by a wide margin over Strong in the final, Curtis beat the youthful Mackenzie Glynn rink 7-0 in five ends in the semifinals.
Curtis and her team travelled outside the province for competition three times this season, playing in World Curling Tour events in Halifax, Kemptville, Ont., and Windsor, N.S. They qualified in two events, and the local Centennial spiel at the Re/Max Centre.
“To qualify in three of four events is pretty good,” she said.
Curtis has shown steady improvement at the nationals since her first appearance in 2011, when she went 1-10. She was 2-9 in 2013, 3-8 in 2016 and 5-6 last year in St. Catharines, Ont.
But Curtis points out it will be a different Scotties tournament this year as Curling Canada goes with 16-team format for the Canadian men’s and women’s championships. They will feature featuring champions from the 10 provinces, two Territories and Nunavut, in addition to the top-ranked, non-qualified team on the Canadian Team Ranking System once each provincial/territorial playdown is completed.
Teams will be divided into two pools of eight, with the top four teams from each pool advancing to a championship pool that will determine the final four playoff teams.
“We want to be around at the end of the week,” Curtis said. “In order to do that, we need to have a good start.”
This year’s provincial Scotties field featured seven teams, which was an increase in the number of competitive women’s rinks. Strong recalls winning the 2016 final, which was a three-team round-robin.
“It speaks to the growth of the game,” Curtis said. “There’s a great group of young girls’ teams coming up, and it’s so great to see.”
One of those team was Glynn’s team of Kathie Follett, Sarah Chaytor and Camille Burt. That rink went 4-2 to finish third after the round-robin.
The Glynn rink won the provincial junior championship, and leaves Thursday for the national junior championship which opens Saturday in Shawinigan, Que.