Meaghan Hughes is going to wear the Team P.E.I. colours at the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the first time next month in Alberta.
Hughes plays second for Suzanne Birt's rink, which defeated Kim Dolan's team 5-4 Monday at the provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts final at the Montague Curling Rink.
"It means just about everything to me," Hughes said after the victory. "I've curled my whole life and put a lot of time into the sport. It's a goal I've worked for, for a long time and it's nice to have it come to fruition."
The Johnstons River curler has played against Birt since she was a teenager. When the opportunity to join Birt's new squad presented itself, she didn't have much to think about.
"It was kind of a no-brainer," Hughes said Monday.
Birt won the 2015 provincial title, but skipped a whole new team to the 2016 championship — her ninth since 2003. The team, including third Robyn Green and lead Marie Christianson, was finalized about a month after last season ended.
Hughes noted Birt and Green's past of playing together helped make the transition much easier. Birt said the team trained twice a week together at Naturally Fit with Jason Mosher since March.
"Going into the season it wasn't like a new team," she said. "We knew what we wanted to accomplish and we worked hard."
Christianson, who moved to P.E.I. from Nova Scotia in 2015, will also be making her first trip to nationals.
"We've been training hard and I think all our hard work will pay off there," she said. "We can't wait to hit the ice together."
While the team lacked experience playing together, each member brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. It helped Monday after dropping a second loss in a row to force a winner-take-all final in the afternoon.
Lisa Jackson defeated them 8-5 in Sunday's C semifinal after Birt had won the A and B events. Dolan beat Birt 8-6 in Monday's first playoff game to force the finale between the two Charlottetown Curling Complex rinks.
Hughes said they knew there was a lot on the line, but it was as relaxed as she felt during the tournament.
"You just stick to your own game plan," Birt added. "We knew we put the time in this year, and we just knew we could play well and make our shots when it counted."
She pointed to playoff appearances in all of the half-dozen bonspiels they had entered this season for helping them in Monday's championship.
"We were prepared," she said.
The Canadian championship takes place from Feb. 20 to 28 in Grande Prairie, Alta. Birt joins defending champion Jennifer Jones of Winnipeg and Yukon's Nicole Baldwin in the field. The rest of the teams will be determined in upcoming provincial and territorial championships.
A look at the final game between the Suzanne Birt and Kim Dolan rinks at the P.E.I. Scotties Tournament of Hearts Monday in Montague.
Birt 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 — 5
Dolan 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 — 4