By Matthew Abrey
Special to the Western News
Kerri Einarson and her Winnipeg rink don’t need to worry about lugging home their luggage just yet after winning the Wild Card spot at this year’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Penticton.
“We definitely packed for staying 10 days, and now I just have to make arrangements for my children,” said Einarsson. “We’re stoked to be here, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the tournament now.”
Einarsson (Manitoba) faced off against 2016 Scotties champion Chelsea Carey (Alberta) in the tournament’s first ever Wild Card game, to determine which team would receive the 16th and final spot in the competition. The pair were the top two ranked teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System that did not qualify through their respective provincial championships.
Carey jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after the first end, but Einarson clapped right back in the second to tie it up at 2-2.
The third end was blanked, allowing Carey to keep the hammer. The fourth end, however, featured a jam-up in the house, with Einarson laying four stones closest to the bullseye leading into skip Chelsea Carey’s final shot. Carey needed to make a an extremely difficult roll-in shot to even have a chance at clearing the house, and made as good of a shot as anyone could’ve asked, but ultimately Einarson still stole two. A measurement was required to determine that Einarson really had indeed stolen the second point, and the difference between the red and yellow rocks appeared to come within mere millimetres.
The fifth also featured an incredible jam-up, with a staggering nine rocks in the rings, and another 4 staggered up high above the rings, acting as a minefield of guard stones. Carey once again needed to make a roll-in shot to prevent Einarson from stealing another point, but completely missed the intended rock, putting Einarson’s lead at 5-2.
Chelsea Carey’s struggles continued in the sixth, as she fumbled what appeared to be an easy shot, allowing Einarson to steal yet another point.
The Calgary-based rink appeared to bounce back in the seventh, easily taking two in the end to cut Einarson’s lead to 6-4.
The comeback bid by the 2016 Scotties champ fell short, however, as Einarson managed to blank the eighth end, and score one in the ninth to make it a 7-4 final score, and clinch their place in this year’s tournament.
“It’s hard” said Carey, visibly disappointed after the loss.
“It’s a one game event, and it’s against a really good team, so it’s a toss-up all the time. You need to put your best game forward and hope it works out for you, and this time it just didn’t.”
Einarson and her Manitoba rink will play the New Brunswick rink, skipped by Sylvie Robichaud Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The win means three teams from the province will continue on in the tournament with Einarson, third Selena Kaatz, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristan MacCuish join two Winnipeg based teams: Manitoba champion Jennifer Jones and Team Canada skipped by Michelle Englot, who as runner-up at the 2017 Scotties replaces Olympic-bound Rachel Homan’s Ottawa-based rink, which won the 2017 Scotties, as Team Canada.