Team Fleury looks for Home Hardware Canada Cup redemption

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Northern Ontario skip Tracy Horgan throws her rock in pre-qualifying action at the 2015 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian Womens Curling Championships, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

If it weren’t for bad luck, Tracy Fleury and her rink from East St. Paul, Man. would have had no luck at all at previous editions of the Home Hardware Canada Cup, presented by Pioneer.

Fleury had skipped her teams to a combined 3-9 record in her two previous appearances, albeit with completely different lineups than her current rotation.

Now, with a 7-1 win over Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, Fleury has posted a 2-0 start and is looking to put the past behind her.

In other Draw 3 games on Wednesday night at Sobeys Arena, Team Casey Scheidegger with fill-in skip Cheryl Bernard (2-0; Lethbridge, Alta.) beat Kerri Einarson (1-1; Gimli, Man.) 7-1; Brendan Bottcher (2-0l Edmonton) dominated Glenn Howard (0-2; Penetanguishine, Ont.) 9-3; Kevin Koe (2-0; Calgary) upended Brad Jacobs (1-1; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) 11-7 and John Epping (1-1; Toronto) doubled up Matt Dunstone (0-2; Regina) 8-4.

Fleury proved to be somewhat of a trendsetter, putting up a four-spot in the opening end, the first of four big scored posted during the draw. There was also one five-ender.

“It kinda helped give us some momentum for the game,” said Fleury, whose team is rounded out by vice-skip Selena Njegovan, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish.

All Fleury had to do was protect her lead against the reigning Scotties Tournament of Hearts champion, who dropped to 1-1. Fleury did that and more

“Ten-end games,” said Fleury. “It was so early and when you’re playing against such a great team, you know they’re capable of coming back. The game was really back and forth, lots of two-enders. It was an exciting game.”

With four round-robin games to go, Fleury is now just one win away from tying her all-time wins record in this event.

“It’s always such a tough competition,” said Fleury. “The teams here are all so good.”

She’s paid her dues over the years and now has put her team in a position where it has a chance to finish this week among Canada’s championship-level teams.

“We’re having a strong season and we’ve been playing a lot of these teams on the Tour,” said Fleury. “We’re comfortable playing against any of them. We’re happy so far, especially with a field of this calibre. To start 2-0, it’s great.”

In a field without any free spaces on the bingo card, there’s plenty of slugging ahead.

“Another two tough ones tomorrow,” Fleury said.

With Casey Scheidegger out of the lineup (she gave birth to her second son, eight-pound, 14-ounce Ryker on Monday, meanwhile, Bernard has stepped out of the TSN broadcast booth to lead the team to a 2-0 start.

“The girls are playing really good,” said Bernard, who posted her team’s four-ender in the sixth thanks in large part to a hog-line violation on Einarson. “That was unfortunate with the hogline. We were (still) looking at four without the hogline. I hate when things like that happen. (But) 2-0, we’re not going to throw that back.”

Coming out of retirement and stepping out of the broadcast booth onto the ice has been a fun switch.

“I’m having fun out there and we’re relaxed,” said Bernard. “There’s not a lot of pressure on us. No expectation on a skip that hasn’t played for years on a team that lost its skip. I get a little break, those guys (in the booth) get a little break. It’s not so bad.”

The 2019 Home Hardware Canada Cup continues with draws Thursday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times MST).