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Team Payne at Northern Ontario Scotties This Week

Nugget Column #17 – Tuesday January 19th, 2015

The North Bay Granite Club will be well represented when the Northern Ontario Scotties gets underway tomorrow at the McIntyre Curling Club in Timmins.

Local competitive curlers Laura Payne, Laura Forget and Mackenzie Daley have teamed up with Iroquois Falls’ Stephanie Brown and Sudbury’s Amanda Corkal to take a run at two of the country’ top teams who are favourited to represent the Northern Ontario Curling Association at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts February 20th – 28th, 2016 in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

Sudbury’s Tracy Fleury has been hotter than ever this season making a quarterfinal, semi-final, and final appearance in three of the four Grand Slam of Curling events staged this season. Team Fleury is fifth in the Canadian Team Ranking System standings and is looking to secure a third-career trip to Scotties Tournament of Hearts (where they finished fifth in 2015).

The return of Thunder Bay’s Krista McCarville to competitive curling will also pose a serious challenge to the other three contenders. McCarville took over skipping for last season’s runner-up team of Kendra Lilly, Sarah Potts and Oye-Sem Won Briand, while also adding Ashley Sippala to the line-up.

The veteran skip has already climbed into twelfth rank in the CTRS standings, having won four events this season, and is hungry to make a fifth hearts appearance; first since 2010.

It would only be realistic to say that the odds are stacked against our home team and the Wiseman rink representing the host club. But it would also be unfair to say that our girls don’t possess the skill to write a great underdog story – they do, and they can. To follow Team Payne go to – click on the “results” tab – “2016 NOCA Scotties”.

Other provincial Scotties events will also take place this month.

In British Colombia, defending champion Patti Knezevic and two-time Scotties champion Kelly Scott will battle neck and neck.

In Alberta, Val Sweeting will have one of the tougher paths back to Scotties with young guns Kelsey Rocque and Chelsea Carey standing in the way. Olympic bronze medalist Shannon Kleibrink could also present complications.

Stefanie Lawton looks to defend Saskatchewan but will have to face former vice-skip Sherry Anderson and eight-time Scotties participants Michelle Englot to do so.

Some relief for the sub-Jennifer Jones level teams in Manitoba has been granted with the Olympic Gold Medalists returning to the Scotties as Team Canada. A final between Kristy McDonald and Kerri Einarson is likely.

In Ontario, Rachel Homan is playing her first provincial since 2013 having claimed Team Canada for two consecutive seasons. Homan returns as a heavy favourite as she looks to put the stamp on her best season ever that includes winning seven events (namely three Grand Slams and the Canada Cup).

In Quebec, Lauren Mann is the defending champion but Marie-France Larouche is probably the favourite after missing the event in 2015.

In Nova Scotia former teammates Colleen Jones and Mary-Anne Arsenault could clash but teams skipped by Theresa Breen and Jill Brothers are no slouches either.

New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robichaud, Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Heather Strong, and Northwest Territories’ Kerry Galusha look to make their annual appearance at the Canadian Championship.

Bobby Ray General Manager North Bay Granite Club

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