2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts gets underway Saturday in Penticton

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Team Manitoba, skip, Michelle Englot, third, Kate Cameron, second, Leslie Wilson, lead, Raunora Westcott, the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, St Catharines, Ontario

There will be many historic elements to the 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts when it gets underway on Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre (SOEC) in Penticton, B.C.

It will be the first 16-team edition of the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, and the first that will feature a Wild Card Game preceding the championship, Friday at 6:30 p.m. (TSN; all times Pacific) at the SOEC to determine the final entry into the Scotties.

Additionally, Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones, along with her longtime second Jill Officer, if they win gold, will join Nova Scotia’s Colleen Jones as the only six-time winners of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

The action kicks off with the Wild Card game on Friday between 2016 Scotties champ Chelsea Carey of Calgary and Kerri Einarson of Winnipeg; they were the top two teams on the Canadian Team Ranking System that didn’t qualify through their provincial/territorial championships.

The winning team will be known as Team Wild Card and will begin play with the other 15 teams on Saturday.

Jones’s Manitoba team from Winnipeg will add Shannon Birchard at the vice-skip position, replacing Kaitlyn Lawes, who will be heading to South Korea to compete in the first Olympic mixed doubles curling competition with partner John Morris. Lead Dawn McEwen and coach Wendy Morgan round out the Manitoba champs.

Winnipeg’s Michelle Englot, along with teammates vice-skip Kate Cameron, second Leslie Wilson, lead Raunora Westcott, alternate Briane Meilleur and coach Ron Westcott, will wear Team Canada colours in Penticton after a memorable silver-medal result a year ago at St. Catharines. With 2017 Scotties champs Rachel Homan and her Ottawa team representing Canada at the Winter Olympics, the Scotties Team Canada assignment automatically went to the 2017 runner-up.

The home province will be represented by Nanaimo’s Kesa Van Osch, who has sisters Marika at vice-skip and Kalia at second, along with lead Amy Gibson, alternate Rachelle Kallechy and coach Bill Tschirhart.

The 16 teams are split into two pools of eight, based on their Canadian Team Ranking System standing as of Dec. 31; the Wild Card winner will be the No. 4 seed.

They will play seven round-robin games within their pool, with the top four teams in each pool moving into the Championship Pool. The four teams from Pool A will play the four teams from Pool B Thursday and Friday, and then the top four win-loss records (including the preliminary round) will move into the traditional Page playoffs beginning Saturday.

Here’s a look at the full field:

Pool A

(teams listed according to seeding; skip through alternate, coach and hometown)

  • 1. Manitoba, Jennifer Jones (Shannon Birchard, Jill Officer, Dawn McEwen, Wendy Morgan; Winnipeg)
  • 4. Team Wild Card
  • 5. Northern Ontario, Tracy Fleury (Crystal Webster, Jenn Wylie, Amanda Gates, Jenna Walsh, Andrea Ronnebeck; Sudbury)
  • 8. Nova Scotia, Mary-Anne Arsenault (Christina Black, Jennifer Baxter, Jennifer Crouse, Carole MacLean, Peter Corkum; Halifax)
  • 9. Saskatchewan, Sherry Anderson (Kourtney Fesser, Krista Fesser, Karlee Korchinski, Kim Schneider, Rick Folk; Saskatoon)
  • 12. New Brunswick, Sylvie Robichaud (Melissa Adams, Nicole Bishop, Kendra Lister, Ellery Robichaud; Moncton)
  • 13. Northwest Territories, Kerry Galusha (Sarah Koltun, Megan Koehler, Shona Barbour, Fred Koe; Yellowknife)
  • 16. Yukon Territory, Chelsea Duncan (Jenna Duncan, Kara Price, Jody Smallwood, Loralee Johnstone, Gordon Moffatt; Whitehorse)

Pool B

(teams listed according to seeding; skip through alternate, coach and hometown)

  • 2. Alberta, Casey Scheidegger (Cary-Anne McTaggart, Jessie Scheidegger, Kristie Moore, Carolyn McRorie; Grande Prairie)
  • 3. Team Canada, Michelle Englot (Kate Cameron, Leslie Wilson, Raunora Westcott, Briane Meilleur, Ron Westcott; Winnipeg)
  • 6. Ontario, Holly Duncan (Stephanie LeDrew, Cheryl Kreviazuk, Karen Sagle, Danielle Inglis; Toronto)
  • 7. British Columbia, Kesa Van Osch (Marika Van Osch, Kalia Van Osch, Amy Gibson, Rachelle Kallechy, Bill Tschirhart; Nanaimo)
  • 10. Newfoundland/Labrador, Stacie Curtis (Erin Porter, Julie Devereaux, Erica Trickett, Eugene Trickett; St. John’s)
  • 11. Prince Edward Island, Robyn MacPhee (Sarah Fullerton, Meaghan Hughes, Michelle McQuaid, Mitch O’Shea; Charlottetown)
  • 14. Quebec, Émilia Gagné (Mélina Perron, Marie-Pier Harvey, Chloé Arnaud, Isabelle Thiboutot, Joël Gagné; Alma)
  • 15. Nunavut, Amie Shackleton (Geneva Chislett, Denise Hutchings, Robyn Mackey, Christianne West, Donalda Mattie; Iqaluit)

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