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Nova Scotia's Jill Brothers rink ready for Scotties Tournament of Hearts

 The Mayflower rink of skip Jill Brothers, left, third Erin Carmody, fifth Kim Kelly, second Jenn Brine and lead Emma Logan will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, beginning Feb. 19 Contributed
The Mayflower rink of skip Jill Brothers, left, third Erin Carmody, fifth Kim Kelly, second Jenn Brine and lead Emma Logan will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, beginning on Friday. - Contributed

Jill Brothers won’t get to add a fourth diamond to her Scotties Tournament of Hearts pendant when she arrives in Calgary this week, but she’s okay with that.

The Mayflower skip will take the trip to the national championship in search of a bigger prize.

 “It’s about the trip to the big show and being able to play for it all. The coveted rings will be award to the top three teams.”

Nova Scotia is one of the many provinces that didn't hold a provincial championship due to the raging world of COVID-19, so Brothers' rink earned the berth based on their provincial point rankings for the 2020 season.

Third Erin Carmody, second Jenn Brine, lead Emma Logan, fifth Kim Kelly and coach Daryell Nowlan will join Brothers as Nova Scotia's representative in the bubble-environment at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Olympic Park.


Jill Brothers will have to wait for another Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearance to complete her Scotties pendant. Teams that make repeat appearances at the Scotties receive  a diamond to go with their necklace and pendant that they receive as rookies. This year, however, many teams from across Canada were unable to play their provincial championships and were awarded berths to the national event.  - Contributed
Jill Brothers will have to wait for another Scotties Tournament of Hearts appearance to complete her Scotties pendant. Teams that make repeat appearances at the Scotties receive a diamond to go with their necklace and pendant that they receive as rookies. This year, however, many teams from across Canada were unable to play their provincial championships and were awarded berths to the national event. - Contributed

Brothers and her crew will have to do without the bling and settle for unpleasant nasal swabs and isolation when they arrive on Wednesday.

This edition of the Scotties will be like no other.

The teams will play their games then return to the hotel. No mixing with the opposition, no meet and greets and no fans in the stands.

“I’m really going to miss the fans. That is going to be so weird,” said Brothers. “There are so many great teams that go.  I like to have connections with the other teams. There’s not going to be any of that.”   

Without the customary pomp and ceremony,  the championship will be stripped down to its basic element, the competition.

Carmody is approaching the Scotties with the glass half full mentality.

“I still think it’s going to be a great Scotties,” said Carmody.  “We all go there to compete. Just to have the opportunity to do that in this crazy year is fantastic.”


Ontario's Rachel Homan  is one of the top teams at the Scotties. Homan will play Nova Scotia on Monday.  - Ian  Kucerak
Ontario's Rachel Homan is one of the top teams at the Scotties. Homan will play Nova Scotia on Monday. - Ian Kucerak

Scotties full of stars

Brothers drew  Pool A with Laura Walker (Alberta), Kerri Einarson (Team Canada),  Rachel Homan (Ontario),  Mackenzie Zacharias (Wild card No. 2), Beth Peterson (Wild Card No.3), Kerry Galusha (Northwest Territories), Krysta Burns (Northern Ontario) and Laura Eby (Yukon).

Pool B features Tracy Fleury (Wild Card No. 1), Jennifer Jones (Manitoba), Corryn Brown (British Columbia), Suzanne Birt (Prince Edward Island), Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan), Laurie St-Georges (Quebec), Melissa Adams (New Brunswick), Lori Eddy (Nunavut) and Sarah Hill (Newfoundland/Labrador).

The Nova Scotia rink opens the competition on Friday evening (9:30 p.m. AT) against Alberta’s  Walker in TSN’s feature television game.

For Carmody, the game is an opportunity to play under the bright television lights against her former skip in Edmonton six years ago.

“It will be nice to see Laura again. And to be on television, it will be a good one,” said the Summerside native. “I think we are used to it. We have all played the TV games, so that will be no different than in the past.”

Curling, like so many sports, has had numerous events cancelled due to the pandemic.  Brothers is thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of the championship that will be shown across the country.

“People are so excited to see us back on TV, so it is really nice,” said the veteran skip. “To think that we’re going to be up there allowing people to watch curling again is exciting. I got off the phone with my nan, she’s 91, and she said it’s great that we're going to be playing on TV.”

Ice-time advantage

The Nova Scotia women enter the Scotties with some serious ice time under their belts. While many of the provinces have been in shut-down mode and curling clubs closed, the team has practised for several weeks. While they missed the game competition, they put their practice time to good use.

“Nova Scotia has done well with COVID and we all live here, so we can all practice together,” said Brothers. “For so many other teams that hasn’t been an option at all. This year leading up to leaving, we have definitely seen each other, I’ve got to say, more than probably any other team out there.

“We’re a bit of a rare team because we all live right in Halifax and we all get to practice together without travelling to see each other. A lot of the rinks don’t live in the same city or same provinces, so we always appreciate that we can practice together.”

And the team doesn’t take that extra ice time for granted. They are hoping for a competitive advantage starting on Friday.

“In general, we have had a lot of face time together,” said Brothers. “We really enjoyed this preparation. Maybe knowing that some other teams, unfortunately, are unable to do it has made us more grateful for it.”

In a championship loaded with talent, any small edge can be the difference between winning and losing, said Carmody.

“It helps to give you that extra little bit of confidence or extra edge. We have been out on the ice a ton in the last couple of weeks. That will give us that extra bit of assurance when we are out there.”


Jill Brothers, left, Erin Carmody, Sarah Murphy and Jenn Brine accept the winner's cheque after capturing the Dave Jones Stanhope Simpson Insurance Mayflower Cashspiel in October.   The cashspiel was one of the few events the Brothers rink played this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Murphy opted out of  competing at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary that begins on Friday. Brine moves to second and Emma Logan steps in as lead. – Contributed
Jill Brothers, left, Erin Carmody, Sarah Murphy and Jenn Brine accept the winner's cheque after capturing the Dave Jones Stanhope Simpson Insurance Mayflower Cashspiel in October. The cashspiel was one of the few events the Brothers rink played this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Murphy opted out of competing at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary that begins on Friday. Brine moves to second and Emma Logan steps in as lead. – Contributed

Change in lineup

The ice time also gave Carmody a chance to brush up on her house skills when she calls the shots with Brothers.

That duty was Sarah Murphy’s last year, but the team’s second opted out of this Scotties.  The move put Carmody back on the broom and she’s thrilled about it.

“I’m excited to be in the house again. I think what I enjoy most is doing a lot of the ice reading and line-calling. Certainly, Jill and I have worked a lot over the last few weeks. Just coming up with a solid game plan so we know what we’re doing.”

Brothers said the practice time was beneficial and the team is ready to hit the ice.

“I think it forced us to work on our game a little more because Erin and I have been out of the house together for a season. It gave us an opportunity to redefine our game plan and sit down and write it out. When your back end is slightly different on those decision-making shots, your game looks a little different. And that’s fine. We’ve had the time to look at that and rejig anything we weren’t comfortable with.”

Long week ahead

The Nova Scotia women are prepared for a long week of competition, with eight round-robin games in six days.

“Every game at the Scotties is a hard game,” said Brothers, whose best national performance was a 6-5 record in 2016. “It’s always hard because you never know who is going to come up with the big shot. Who’s going to get their groove going on the Scotties’ ice. It’s just exciting.”

Brothers believes the Scotties will be a battle of attrition due to the lack of playing and practising for most teams this year.

“I think there will be a lot of mental errors in strategy because everyone is out of practice. No one has played much this year, not even close. It will be interesting to see if the mental errors happen later in the week because people are tired.

“Just flip a coin, it’s going to be wild.”

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