It’s Scotties Tournament of Hearts time again and the defending champs skipped by Suzanne Birt are looking for a second straight title and third since 2011.
Play begins in the 2014 version today with draws at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Tiebreakers, if needed, go Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.).
If tiebreakers aren’t needed, the final is Sunday at 2 p.m. If tiebreakers are needed, a semifinal goes Sunday at 2 p.m., followed by the final at 7 p.m.
Today, Birt opens the Scotties versus the Kathy O’Rourke rink at 2 p.m., and Birt said her new-look squad is ready.
“We have to stay within ourselves, play our game,” said the long-time skip after practice on Wednesday. “We’ve played in a lot of bonspiels and had a lot of success. We’re looking forward to the weekend.”
Last year, Birt and third stone Shelley Bradley had second Sarah Fullerton and lead Leslie MacDougall on the team.
But before this season, Fullerton left for Dalhousie University in Halifax and MacDougall retired from curling.
So Birt and Bradley hit the recruiting trail and nabbed second Michelle McQuaid, who played third for skip Fullerton when their team won three straight provincial junior championships from 2010 to 2012.
Then the trio added lead Susan McInnis, who Birt had won Scotties with in 2003-04 and 2006. In two of those titles, 2004 and 2006, McInnis was third stone. She also skipped the 1996 Scotties winner.
“We thought she would be a good fit,” said Birt, a seven-time Scotties champion skip. “Everybody’s personalities have to gel and ours gelled from the get-go. No issues so far.
“We get along on and off the ice. Sometimes I’m in my own little bubble, but they bring out the best in me. They’re more outgoing than me. We’re having fun together.”
Five rinks, including Birt’s, are vying for the Scotties title. Other teams include the Kim Dolan rink and Lisa Jackson rinks, who like Birt and O’Rourke are from the Charlottetown Curling Complex, and the Shirley Berry rink from the Cornwall and Silver Fox curling clubs.
Of the five teams, only Jackson and Berry haven’t won Scotties titles.
O’Rourke has won two Scotties as a skip while Dolan has skipped five titles on her resumé.
It may be a small field, said Birt, but it’s a talented one. The winner goes to the national bonspiel in Montreal in February.
“We don’t have very many teams on P.E.I., but the teams are very strong. We usually have decent teams going into the (national) Scotties.”
This year, the Scotties also features the inaugural Future Scotties women’s curling championship Friday through Sunday. It pits four of the Island’s female developmental teams against each other in an exhibition bonspiel.
Those games goes each day at 10 a.m. at the CCC.
Admission to the Scotties games is $5 per draw, payable at the door, or $25 for a full event pass with preferred seating. Passes are available at the Charlottetown Curling Complex.
The Future Scotties draws are free.
Draw for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship Thursday through Sunday at the Charlottetown Curling Complex:
Shirley Berry, Sandy Hope, Shelley Ebbett, Arleen Harris, coaches Butch McGee, Bill Hope, Cornwall and Silver Fox curling clubs.
Suzanne Birt, Shelly Bradley, Michelle McQuaid, Susan McInnis, coach Peter Gallant, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Kim Dolan, Rebecca Jean MacDonald, Sinead Dolan, Michala Robison, alternate Jackie Reid, coach John Likely, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Lisa Jackson, Carolyn Coulson, Melissa Morrow, Michelle MacIntyre, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Kathy O'Rourke, Robyn Green, Meaghan Hughes, Tricia Affleck, alternate Stefanie Clark, coach Peter MacDonald, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Sheet 2 - Berry vs. Dolan
Sheet 3 - O'Rourke vs. Birt
Sheet 3 - Berry vs. Jackson
Sheet 4 - Dolan vs. O'Rourke
Sheet 2 - O'Rourke vs. Jackson
Sheet 3 - Dolan vs. Birt
Sheet 3 - Berry vs. O'Rourke
Sheet 4 - Birt vs. Jackson
Sheet 2 - Berry vs. Birt
Sheet 3 - Dolan vs. Jackson
7 p.m. - tiebreaker, if needed, or semifinal
9 a.m. - tiebreaker, if needed
2 p.m. - Semifinal if tiebreaker on Saturday or final if no tiebreaker
7 p.m. - Final if tiebreaker on Saturday
Draw for the inaugural Future Scotties women's curling championship event Friday through Sunday at the Charlottetown Curling Complex:
Meghan Ching, Rachel O'Connor, Lauren Lenentine, Breanne Burgoyne, coach Pat Quilty, Cornwall Curling Club.
Emily Keen, Jessica Watts, Kayla Schut, Jenny Mutch, coach Butch McGee, Cornwall Curling Club.
Kaleigh MacKay, Danielle Collings, Alyssa Wright, Kaleigh Peters-Ellis, coach AJ Campbell, Montague and Crapaud
Lauren Moerike, Ashley Gallant, Annika Kelly, Tati Kelly, coach Kevin Moerike, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Sheet 2 - MacKay vs. Keen
Sheet 3 - Ching vs. Moerike
Sheet 3 - MacKay vs. Ching
Sheet 4 - Keen vs. Moerike
Sheet 2 - Keen vs. Ching
Sheet 3 - MacKay vs. Moerike