THUNDER BAY – There won’t be a fairy-tale finish for the hometown favourite.
The Thunder Bay rink of Krista McCarville, Sarah Potts, Ashley Sippala and Kendra Lilly surrendered steals in the first and second ends on Thursday night, then missed a nose-hit for two and had to settle for one in the third and went down to a 5-3 defeat at the hands of long-time Northern Ontario rival Tracy Fleury.
The loss left McCarville still searching for her first win at the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge, being contested at the Tournament Centre.
For Fleury, it meant staying perfect at 3-0 and clinching a spot in the upcoming playoffs at the six-day event.
With one game left in round robin play and the playoffs out of reach, McCarville said the 0-3 start wasn’t the scenario she envisioned when she learned the team would get to play in the Tier 1 side of the event, facing a field consisting of 15 of the top women’s curling teams in the world.
“Obviously it’s super disappointing. Playing in Thunder Bay you always dream of winning in Thunder Bay, so it’s disappointing. But yeah, we still have one more game that we want to win, even though we’re out of the playoffs. We still want to go out there and play the best we can play.”
Fleury said she’s not surprised the game went down to the second-to-last shot, when McCarville, needing a steal to force an extra end, missed on her final rock, leaving her opponent sitting in shot-rock position and not even needing to throw her last stone.
“We knew that Team McCarville would come out strong and they did. We usually have a tight game with them, so it was really close,” Fleury said.
“We have a lot of history with this team and we always enjoy playing against them. I think over the years they have really pushed us to be better, which is a good thing.”
Fleury, who moved to Manitoba after last season, said it wasn’t as smooth as it might have looked to the national audience watching on Sportsnet.
“They put some pressure on us too. I think there were some ends that got kind of scary for us too, but we managed to sneak our way out of them,” Fleury said, adding she’s already starting to think of the playoff round.
“We’re pretty confident. We feel we have a lot of positive momentum right now, so we’ll try to keep that rolling into the playoffs.”
McCarville trailed 3-1 at the break and got one back in the fifth on a draw to the four-foot, but gave the point right back in the sixth, Fleury making a double takeout to remove a pair of opposition rocks and then hit and stuck for one.
McCarville, who turns 36 on Saturday, drew for another point in the seventh, but couldn’t complete the comeback in the eighth.
In other Draw 9 action, Jennifer Jones edged American Nina Roth, both teams sitting at 2-1 in Pool A. Edmonton’s Chelsea Carey, the 2016 Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion, was edged 8-7 by American Cory Christiansen, the two teams tied for third in Pool B at 1-2. Rachel Homan downed previously undefeated Keri Einarson 7-2 to join Fleury at 3-0, Einarson slipping to 3-1. In the lone game on the men’s side, Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue (3-0) needed just six ends to dispose of Winnipeg’s Jason Gunnlaugson 6-1, who slipped to 0-3.
Earlier in the day Sault Ste. Marie’s Brad Jacobs improved to 3-0 with a 5-1 win over Glenn Howard, joining Duluth’s John Shuster, who stayed perfect with a 4-3 win over Swedens Niklas Edin.
On the Tier 2 side, Thunder Bay’s Dylan Johnston slipped to 1-2, falling 5-3 to Winnipeg’s William Lyburn.