By Ryan McCracken on January 11, 2018.
The Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts kicked off Wednesday at the Medicine Hat Curling Club with 12 teams vying to represent the province at the national event —and one out to defend their crown.
Reigning Alberta champion Team Kleibrink opened their tournament with a 10-8 comeback victory over Team DeJong. After giving up a late 8-6 lead in the eighth end, Shannon Kleibrink’s squad stormed back with four points in the ninth to steal away the game.
“It was just a back-and-forth battle,” said Kleibrink. “I was a little rusty. I haven’t played in a month and a half. The girls have, but I just kept missing my last shot. Finally we made one in nine and got the big four-end.”
Kleibrink grew up in Lethbridge and says she spent her formative years making the trip down Highway 3 to curl in the Gas City. While it’s technically not home ice advantage, she says it sure feels like it.
“I played here probably just as much as I did in Lethbridge. It kind of feels like a home club to me,”she said, adding the ice conditions have been perfect. “It’s always great when it’s Jamie Bourassa’s ice. I’ve never seen it be anything but perfect so it’s pretty exciting.”
Team Kleibrink returns third Sarah Wilkes and lead Alison Thiessen, while second Kalynn Park joined up with the team this season. Kleibrink says playing with three young players has rejuvenated her love for the sport of curling.
“It’s been awesome,” said Kleibrink. “They’re young and all of them are very talented and enthusiastic about the game. It’s sort of renewed the game for me.”
Kleibrink’s squad followed up the opening victory with a 6-4 win over Team Crocker in the second draw and will move on to face Chelsea Carey’s team in the third draw.
Team Marthaller picked up a 10-6 victory over Team Ramsay in the first draw before falling into the B Event with an 8-1 loss to Team Carey. Nadine Scotland’s squad defeated Amanda Craigie 8-6 in the opening draw before dropping a 7-5 contest to Casey Scheidegger in the second draw and Team Sherrer opened their tournament with a 9-6 win over Team Hunkin then fell 8-1 to Val Sweeting’s squad in the second draw.
The A event continues today with Carey taking on Kleibrink and Scheidegger facing Sweeting in the third draw at 9 a.m. The winners will meet up in the fifth draw at 6:30 p.m. to play for the first qualifier spot.
The B event kicks off with four games in the fourth draw at 2 p.m. Team Ramsay will take on Team Crocker, Team DeJong will face Team Marthaller, Team Craigie will play Team Sherrer and Team Hunkin will face Team Scotland. Three more B event games are slated for the 6:30 p.m. fifth draw. The second qualifier will be up for grabs in the B event final on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Remaining teams will play for the third and fourth qualifiers Saturday. Championship play is set for Sunday and will be broadcast on Sportsnet.
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