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McCarville rink chasing Scotties title

After finishing in the runner-up spot in 2016, the Thunder Bay squad want to win a national women's curling championship.

THUNDER BAY – Krista McCarville has every intention of turning in green and gold for red and white.

The Thunder Bay skip on Saturday will kick off her sixth Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearance, a year after catching the curling world off guard and finishing in second place at the national women’s curling championship in Grand Prairie, Alta.

This year the 34-year-old McCarville and her teammates – lead Sarah Potts, second Ashley Sippala, third Kendra Lilly and alternate Oye-Sem Briand – will have a target on their back starting on Day 1.

That’s a bit of added pressure, but nothing they’re not ready for, she said.

“I think every team is probably going to want to play us their best,” McCarville said, “just the fact we were in the final last year.

“We haven’t spieled as much as some of the teams there, but when you’re at the Scotties you want to win every game no matter what, so … we’re going to have to play our best against every single team. There are no slouch teams there.”
 As well as they did last year, finishing runner-up to Alberta’s Chelsea Carey, McCarville is trying to focus on the task at hand in 2017, navigating another tough Scotties field in St. Catharines. She’ll open against Olympic bronze medalist Shannon Kleibrink of Alberta, and it doesn’t get much easier from there.

Manitoba’s Michelle Englot, who lost to Thunder Bay’s Heather Houston in the 1989 Scotties semifinal, is making her ninth appearance at the national championship, while Ontario Rachel Homan is ranked No. 1 on the World Curling Tour.

And of course Carey will be there wearing Team Canada’s colours.

McCarville’s OK with the tired, but true cliché, planning to take the championship one shot at a time.

“I don’t want to think about the playoffs. I don’t want to think about that final. I don’t want to think about anything but that very first game,” she said.

“I’ve honestly looked at the schedule and I know we play Alberta our first game. I cannot tell you who we play in our second game. I don’t really want to focus on our second game.”

Sippala, who last August gave birth to her first child and turned 30 last month, the night they downed Tracy Fleury in Nipigon in the Northern Ontario final, said their whole season has pointed them toward the Scotties.

Taking that next step won’t be easy, but she thinks they’re ready – and hopeful they don’t have quite as many nail-biters this time around.  

 “We’re a great team that has perseverance, so if we win all the games we should win and half the games that are toss-ups, hopefully that will put us in a playoff position. And then just battle every game from there and hope to be in it in the end.”

Lead Sarah Potts, whose mother Lorraine Lang coaches the team, said they’re anxious and ready to get started.

“Hopefully we’ve done everything we can,” Potts said.

Their opener against Alberta is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Meridian Centre.