The Chronicle Herald – Contributed
Published: Jan 18, 2019 – 7:38 pm
Mary-Anne Arsenault’s Dartmouth rink enters next week’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts as the odds-on favourite.
The Arsenault foursome is the defending Nova Scotia champion and had an amazing run at last year’s Canadian Scotties by winning nine straight games and advancing to the semifinal. They sit 24th overall in the Canadian Team Ranking System standings, 16 places higher than the next Nova Scotia rink and have enjoyed a banner cashspiel season.
Arsenault brushes aside the role of front-runner for the Scotties, which begins on Monday at her home curling club in Dartmouth.
“No, it doesn’t bother me, I’ve gone into Scotties as the favourite, as the underdog, as somewhere in the middle, so it doesn’t really matter,” said Arsenault, who has won the Nova Scotia Scotties four times as a skip.
“We think we have proven to ourselves that we can play with the best and hopefully we can make it to Sydney (home of the Canadian championship in February) and prove that again.”
Arsenault’s rink will have a different look next week when lead Kristin Clarke gets her first taste of Scotties’ competition.
Clarke, a two-time world junior champion with Mary Fay (2016) and Kaitlyn Jones (2018), takes over for Jennifer Crouse and joins second Jenn Baxter and third Christina Black.
Arsenault said Clarke has made the adjustment to the women’s game relatively quickly.
“I am pleasantly surprised with how consistent she is for how young she is,” said Arsenault. “It is a different game between the juniors and the women’s, but that’s a talented kid there. She loves to draw and she is doing it very well.”
Arsenault expects another tough week of competition from 14-time champion Colleen Jones, Theresa Breen, Jill Brothers, Tanya Hilliard, Kristen MacDiarmid, Julie McEvoy and Mary Myketyn-Driscoll.
“I think it’s going to be a grind, probably no one is going to go through undefeated. We are hoping to make the playoffs and do our thing once we get there.”
The winner gets a trip the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb. 16-24 in Sydney.
Arsenault is not one to get ahead of herself but knows how wonderful it would be to play at a national Scotties in Nova Scotia, especially for Black in her home- town.
“You like to put your blinders on and not think about outcomes but obviously as soon as Sydney was announced it was very exciting, especially for Christina (Black). I think she’s about ready to stand on her head to make it happen.”
Jamie Murphy’s Halifax Curling Club rink heads into competition looking for his fourth straight title and sixth overall.
The Murphy rink that consists of third Paul Flemming, second Scott Saccary and lead Philip Crowell holds down the 27th spot in the Canadian rankings. Brothers Stuart (Dartmouth CC) and Kendall Thompson (Halifax CC) are next at 28th and 29th respectively and will provide stiff competition when action begins Monday in Dartmouth.
Rounding out the field are Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Brent MacDougall, Doug MacKenzie, Chad Stevens and Kevin Oullette.
The teams are playing for a trip to the Tim Hortons Brier March 2-10 in Brandon, Man.
Scotties Tournament of Hearts at Dartmouth Curling Club, Jan. 21-27
- Mary-Anne Arsenault, Christina Black, Jennifer Baxter, Kristin Clarke, Dartmouth
- Theresa Breen, Marlee Powers, Jocelyn Adams, Amanda Simpson, Halifax
- Jill Brothers, Erin Carmody, Sarah Murphy, Jenn Brine, Mayflower
- Tanya Hilliard, Taylor Clarke, Mackenzie Proctor, Heather MacPhee, Dartmouth
- Colleen Jones, Kim Kelly, Mary Sue Radford, Julia Williams, Mayflower
- Kristen MacDiarmid, Kelly Backman, Karlee Jones, Shelley Barker, Lakeshore
- Julie McEvoy, Jennifer Crouse, Sheena Moore, Jill Thomas, Halifax
- Mary Myketyn-Driscoll, Brigitte MacPhail, Kaitlyn Veitch, Michelle MacDonald, Mayflower
Defending champion: Mary-Anne Arsenault, Dartmouth
Deloitte Tankard at Dartmouth Curling Club, Jan. 21-27
- Jamie Murphy, Paul Flemming, Scott Saccary, Philip Crowell, Halifax
- Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc, Cameron MacKenzie, Mark Robar, Jeff Wilson, Halifax
- Kendal Thompson, Bryce Everist, Chris MacRae, Michael Brophy, Halifax
- Brent MacDougall, Martin Gavin, Paul Dexter, Kirk MacDiarmid, Mayflower
- Doug MacKenzie, Shea Steele, Richard Barker, Jared Brown, NSCA
- Kevin Oullette, Mike Flemming, Kris Granchelli, Logan Ward, Mayflower
- Stuart Thompson, Colton Steele, Travis Colter, Taylor Ardiel, Dartmouth
- Chad Stevens, Peter Burgess, Graham Becker, Kelly Middlestadt, NSCA
Defending champion: Jamie Murphy, Halifax