Team McCarville eager to start another Scotties run -

Team McCarville eager to start another Scotties run -
THUNDER BAY – Normally, just days before departing for yet another Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Krista McCarville s nerves start to flutter.

This year seems different, she said on Tuesday night, a crowd gathered at Fort William Curling Club to cheer on the latest rendition of a team that has made seven previous trips the national women s curling championship.

As the foursome gets set to jet across the country to Moose Jaw, Sask., where McCarville will take part in her eighth Scotties Tournament of hearts since 2006, it s a different kind of excitement.

The 37-year-old skip said it s tough to put a finger on.

“I m not sure what it is, or why,” she said. “But usually I have a little bit more of a nervous, stressed out feel leading up to the competition and I just feel really good. I m excited. I can t wait to get there. I can t wait to get on the ice and just play those top teams and be in that atmosphere,” said McCarville, whose team in 2020 includes lead Jen Gates, second Ashley Sippala and third Kendra Lilly.

They ll get their first big test in the opener on Saturday, facing off against long-time rival Chelsea Carey, who ll be wearing the Team Canada colours as defending champions.

It was Carey who edged McCarville in the 2016 gold-medal game and her team will enter this year s Scotties as one of the favourites to win it all again, ranked 13th in the World Curling rankings.

McCarville barely cracks the top 50, at No. 48, but much of that was by design.

The veteran curler decided this year to dial things back, unwilling to sacrifice time with her young family.

“We feel really good,” she said, champing at the bit to see how her team stacks up against the likes of Carey.

“Just the fact that I have scaled it down a little bit this year, I feel like I may have that excitement back. The last three weeks we re still practising really hard, gaining up for the provincials. We wanted to play really well and since then we ve been out on the ice every day and just doing what we can with our lives,” McCarville said.

“I don t think we re holding back and we ve put everything out there that we can.”

Sippala, who took last year off for parental reasons, said the time off has only upped her excitement level to return to the Scotties, in search of that elusive championship.

“I just love it and I wanted to try again. I m glad my team was there and I m super excited.”

Team McCarville rolled through the first six games of the Northern Ontario Scotties, but needed a 6-5 win in the finale over an up-and-coming Sudbury rink skipped by Krysta Burns to advance to Moose Jaw.

“There are going to be great teams at the Scotties. That was a great team in the final. Any game that you have to battle and win is a great experience for you.”

Sippala, like McCarville, is looking forward to yet another meeting with Carey.

“It ll be interesting to see what happens and hopefully we can come out on top. We re getting them out of the way early,” she said.

Team Northern Ontario will play out of Pool A to start the Scotties, alongside Nunavut, Québec, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. The top four teams from each eight-team pool advance to the championship round.

Coach Rick Lang, a two-time world curling champion in his own right, said the team is playing as well as it ever has, which bodes well for Scotties success.

To help them over the championship hump, Lang said he s encouraged them to change things up a bit in 2020.

“We ve been knocking on that door and we talked in the summer a little bit about what we could do a little bit different, a little bit better,” said Lang, who also coaches the 10-time Northern Ontario men s champion Brad Jacobs rink from Sault Ste. Marie.

“Tactically and strategically, we re kind of changing up, maybe a little more offence to score a few more points and put more pressure on the other team. Their trademark is their technical skill and they re doing really well. They don t play like the other teams .. They re ready to go.”
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