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Northern Ontario is getting its own invitation to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, beginning in 2015.
But there’s a catch to the women’s curling championship becoming a 15-team event.
In order to accommodate the change, some of the country’s weaker teams will be forced to take part in play-ins to earn berths at the Scotties.
A pre-qualifying event will be held ahead of the tournament, with 12 teams making up the final field.
The four-team event, with one winner emerging and advancing, will likely be staged as a one-day, winner-take-all affair between the bottom four teams from the previous year.
All 10 provinces will now field teams, with Team Canada, Northern Ontario, Nunavut, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories rounding out the 15 teams. Until the new rules come into effect in time for the 2014-15 season, Northern Ontario women's curlers have been forced to compete province wide for the coveted Scotties spot. Thunder Bay's Krista McCarville won the Ontario title four times in six years, most recently in 2010.
The change will also be felt on the men’s side, where the defending champion will be introduced as Team Canada at the Brier.
Northern Ontario already owns one of the dozen berths at the Brier, but could conceivably have to play their way in, depending on their previous year’s results.
The changes were bought forth last weekend at the Canadian Curling Association’s national curling congress and annual general meeting.
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