Brothers edges Arsenault to secure host province berth at Scotties playdowns

Jennifer Jones already has her Scotties ticket. Rachel Homan will be in Sydney too.

Now you can lock in big names like Chelsea Carey, Tracy Fleury and Kerri Einarson for the national championship as well after a wild day at provincial playdowns across the country.

“All the right teams are winning,” said longtime curling commentator Mike Harris. “I think that’s fair to say.”

Jill Brothers will be the host team at the Feb. 15-24 Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Centre 200 after a 6-5 win over Mary-Anne Arsenault in the Nova Scotia final on Sunday morning in Dartmouth.

Brothers stole two points in the 10th end to knock out the five-time national champion.

Later on, Fleury outscored Einarson 13-7 to win the Manitoba final at Gimli. Fleury gave up a rare five-ender in the second end but pulled even in the sixth, added a deuce in the eighth and stole three points in the ninth when Einarson missed both of her throws.

Einarson, who sits No. 2 in the Canadian Team Ranking System, settled for a spot in the win-and-you’re-in wild-card game before pool play begins at the Scotties.

In Stettler, Carey secured the Alberta title by hitting a brilliant triple-takeout to score four points for an 8-3 win over Kelsey Rocque.

Robyn Silvernagle won the Saskatchewan crown in Humboldt by scoring a single in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over Sherry Anderson. Andrea Crawford was victorious in New Brunswick after doubling Sarah Mallais 6-3 in Moncton.

The Scotties field already includes Kerry Galusha of Northwest Territories, Nunavut’s Jenine Bodner, Quebec’s Gabrielle Lavoie and Jones, the defending champion, as Team Canada.

Yukon’s Nicole Baldwin, Suzanne Birt of Prince Edward Island and Kelli Sharpe of Newfoundland and Labrador also previously qualified.

Homan is guaranteed a spot in the wild-card game unless she wins the Ontario championship on Saturday. If she does, Einarson would likely face Casey Scheidegger, who made an early exit from the Alberta playdowns.

Northern Ontario and British Columbia will hold their women’s playdowns over the next week.

Also Sunday, two more men’s teams earned berths in the Tim Hortons Brier.

Terry Odishaw will represent New Brunswick after topping James Grattan 7-4 in Moncton. Stuart Thompson took the Nova Scotia crown with a 6-4 win over Jamie Murphy in Dartmouth.

The national men’s curling championship is set for March 1-10 at Westoba Place in Brandon, Man.

Nunavut’s Dave St. Louis, P.E.I.’s John Likely, Quebec’s Martin Crete and Team Canada’s Brad Gushue have already secured spots.

Wild-card teams were added to the national championships last year. Einarson beat Carey in the 2018 women’s play-in game and made it all the way to the final.

Homan, meanwhile, was supposed to be Team Canada at the Scotties last year, but had to decline the berth after winning Canada’s Olympic spot for the Pyeongchang Games.

Curling Canada announced last fall that Homan would get to play in this year’s wild-card game if she didn’t directly qualify by winning her province. As it turned out, Homan would be assured at least a wild-card spot anyway because of her healthy lead atop the CTRS list.

Homan (513.711 points) is followed by Einarson (411.289) and Jones (335.285) in the standings. Carey is fourth (210.416) and Scheidegger holds the fifth spot (206.045).

Eighth-place Darcy Robertson of Manitoba would be Scheidegger’s closest challenger (185.007) since No. 6 Fleury and No. 7 Silvernagle locked up berths.

The men’s list is much tighter. Alberta’s Kevin Koe (385.263) holds top spot ahead of Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs (363.465).

Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (331.369), Ontario’s John Epping (329.682) and Gushue (321.422), from Newfoundland and Labrador, round out the top five.

B.C., Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador and Northern Ontario will hold their men’s playdowns over the next week. Alberta, Manitoba, Yukon, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories are on tap the week after.

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