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Newfoundland and Labrador 1-1 after wide-ranging weekend at Scotties

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Erica Curtis delivers a shot in a game against Yukon on Saturday, the opening day of play at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. Newfoundland won the game 6-3, but lost 10-5 to Ontario Sunday — Curling Canada photo/Andrew Klaver
Newfoundland and Labrador skip Erica Curtis delivers a shot in a game against Yukon on Saturday, the opening day of play at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask. Newfoundland won the game 6-3, but lost 10-5 to Ontario Sunday — Curling Canada photo/Andrew Klaver - Curling Canada

Erica Curtis rink plays Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia today

There’s a wide range of experience and expectations for the eight teams in Newfoundland and Labrador’s preliminary-round pool at the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and the Erica Curtis rink from St. John’s got an idea of that scope in its first two games of the Canadian women’s curling championship, which began over the weekend in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Curtis and teammates Erin Porter, Julie Devereaux and Beth Hamilton are 1-1- after the first two days of preliminary play; on Saturday night they defeated the Yukon 6-3, then lost to 10-5 to Ontario on Sunday.

Haylie Birnie, a film and television actress from Whitehorse, has appeared in one previous national women’s championship, but as a third; her vice-skip skip, Chelsea Duncan, has played in a couple, but that’s it when it comes to Scotties experience for the Yukon entry, seeded 14th heading into Moose Jaw.

Meanwhile, second-seed Ontario is represented by the three-time Scotties and 2017 world champions skipped by Rachel Homan.

The difference in Newfoundland’s loss Sunday — in fact, the very margin of victory for Ontario — came down to one end. That was the second, when Homan scored a rare — at least for the Tournament of Heart — five points.

The eight teams in Newfoundland’s pool are a coast-to-coast conglomeration, with British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also part of the mix.

And then there’s the Wild Card entry skipped by Jennifer Jones, another former world and Scotties champion.

While Homan and Jones have to be counted among the favourites to get to the playoffs next weekend, some of the smaller provinces/territories in the pool have players with long histories — some quite successful — at the Scotties, including Suzanne Birt of P.E.I., Mary-Anne Arsenault of Nova Scotia and Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories.

This is Curtis’s first Scotties as skip, but she has participated in at least two previous Scotties. All of teammates have at least as much experience in the event.

The Newfoundland rink didn’t play in either of Sunday’s afternoon or evening draws, which was probably beneficial to a team that had been late in arriving in Moose Jaw because of difficulties with flights.

“Surprisingly enough, the weather was fine in St. John’s,” Curtis to reporters after her first game Saturday.” It was Toronto that gave us all the trouble.”

The plane that was to carry them from St. John’s had been late in arriving from Toronto, and the resulting delay meant they missed a connection at Pearson International.

“We managed to get on standby (on a later flight), but minus the coach,” added Curtis “We finally made it here at 3 a.m. on Friday morning.”

The team’s coach — Curtis’s father, Gene Trickett — got to Moose Jaw Friday afternoon.

It meant an adjustment to their practice schedule —“Everybody was very understanding,” said Curtis — and there is a chance that they might get in some more practice during their downtime.

“We don’t get to play on arena ice very much throughout the year,” said Curtis, whose rink didn’t travel off the island this season, “so getting used to the ice is really big for us, just practising and trying to figure out what it’s doing.”

Curtis and Co. play twice today, against the Northwest Territories in the morning draw and versus Nova Scotia in the afternoon.

The top four finishers in each of the two eight-team preliminary-round pools will advance to the next phase (taking their records with them) while maintaining championship hopes.

Four of those eight teams will move on to Page playoffs.

Twitter: @telybrendan

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