Written by Brett Punkari (With Cameos by Lucas Punkari)
At the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, we caught a glimpse of some of the teams that we could see in the Olympic Trials in four years time. That of course includes the teams that were already in the trials this past year, as the top four teams were in the 2013 event in Winnipeg earlier this season. However, when the dust settled, there was one clear cut team that stood out from everyone else.
Champions & Biggest Surprise: Team Canada (Rachel Homan)
Complete annihilation is probably the best way to describe Rachel Homan’s performance at this year’s Scotties, as they destroyed teams left, right and centre on their way to a repeat title.
They also broke a few records along the way, as Allison Kreviazuk, Emma Miskew and Homan broke Scotties records for shooting percentage during the round-robin, and they became the first team since Linda Moore in 1985 to go undefeated and win the title. In fact their team percentage of 90% would have tied them with Glenn Howard of Ontario at last year’s Brier, which sounds even more ridiculous.
The reason they are the biggest surprise is just how they disposed of other teams so easily, as we all watched with our jaws on the ground for the team’s complete destruction of the field. It almost made you think they took their frustrations from the Olympic trials out on the field.
Even as a diehard Rachel Homan supporter, I could never have imagined that she and the rest of her team would demolish the field with such ease. In fact, Rachel herself never had to throw her final rock all week long, which is an unheard of feat.
Simply put, Homan’s display in Montreal was without a doubt the most dominant run by a rink that I have ever seen, as she only had three really close games all week long. This rink should be the favourite in her second trip to the World’s in March, and it’s hard to see anyone knocking them off any time soon.
However, I will say that I would actually pick British Columbia’s Kesa Van Osch as the biggest surprise of the week. For a team that many expected to struggle in her first Scotties event, she was right in the playoff mix near the end of the week with a 6-5 record, which will set the stage for her being more of a threat in the future.
Lead: Lisa Weagle (88% – Tied for 3rd)
Second: Allison Kreviazuk (90% – First – Scotties Record)
Third: Emma Miskew (91% – First – Scotties Record)
Skip: Rachel Homan (90% – Scotties Record – Perfect Game in Draw 16 against Newfoundland & Labrador)
Runner-Up: Alberta (Val Sweeting)
Val Sweeting had been riding off of the high of a very good showing at the Olympic Trials back in December, and has really put on some great performances as of late. A lot of praise has to be given for Val and company in her second trip to the Scotties after a disappointing showing in 2010 in Sault Ste. Marie, especially with the sweeping ability of Joanne Courtney.
The 2014 season was the coming out party on a national stage for Sweeting. Sure she missed the playoffs at the Trials after a great start, but she was great at the Alberta provincials and was red-hot in the playoffs on her way to a second place showing. Though she came up short in the finals to Rachel Homan, she was right in the game until the very end, and that should bode well for her to be a future title threat.
Lead: Rachel Pidhern (88% – Tied for Third)
Second: Dana Ferguson (84% – Tied for Fourth)
Third: Joanne Courtney (83% – Third)
Skip: Val Sweeting (84% – Fourth)
Bronze: Manitoba (Chelsea Carey)
Chelsea Carey got thrown to the wolves in her first two games as she had to face Canada and Saskatchewan. While the Canada game looked like a carbon copy of her first game at the trials (where she lost to Jennifer Jones) as she got destroyed by Rachel Homan, she had a terrific bounce back win against Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton.
The confidence grew from there, and they played better as the week went on. However, the one glaring issue was Carey herself, as she got outcurled by the other skips by a few percentage points in at least a few of her games.
After shedding the title of the best skip yet to make a Scotties (and moving it over to Crystal Webster in the process), Carey showed why she’s one of the top skips in the country this past week. Depending on what happens with Jennifer Jones’ rink after the Olympics, Carey’s run in Montreal will not only make her a top team again in the coming years, but a true blown threat to win it all in the years to come.
Lead: Lindsay Titheridge (88% – Tied for Third)
Second: Kristen Foster (84% – Tied for Fourth)
Third: Kristy McDonald (82% – Tied for Fourth)
Skip: Chelsea Carey (85% – Second)
Fourth: Saskatchewan (Stefanie Lawton)
For the past three years, Stefanie Lawton had the talent to get through her provincials easily, but she and her team just couldn’t seem to break through. They finally did this year, and they pretty much showed what they have to offer.
Even though they finished in fourth place, they had good percentages throughout the week, and unlike most teams they weren’t blown out in any of their losses. In fact, they were were one of only two teams to push Team Canada to 10 ends during the round-robin.
Well I could argue that Lawton pulled a Lawton later in the week, as she lost to Sarah Koltun of the Yukon in her final round-robin game and missed out on a spot in the 1 vs. 2 game on Friday night. Despite all that, Lawton did well and if the team stays together, they will be in the mix during the next four year run.
Lead: Marliese Kasner (85% – Seventh)
Second: Sherri Singler (88% – Second)
Third: Sherry Anderson (85% – Second)
Skip: Stefanie Lawton (84% – Third – Perfect Game in Draw 8 against Quebec)
Biggest Disappointment: Nova Scotia (Heather Smith “Dacey”)
We thought that maybe with a young team and her previous experience at the Scotties that this team would be one of the darkhorses to make the playoffs. Well that did not happen as the team under-performed, especially Heather Smith in a couple of games. Even though their percentage picked up a little bit they were never in contention throughout.
Okay, Brett had Smith has his darkhorse, but mine was actually Andrea Crawford, who narrowly missed out on making it into the playoff yet again. That chance will happen soon though for the New Brunswick rink.
My biggest disappointment though was Allison Ross of Quebec. I thought the host rink would have a better showing than how they faired in Kingston in 2013, but there were a lot more lopsided results this time around, and they were never near the 4-7 mark I expected of them.
Lead: Teri Lake (90% – First – Perfect Game in Draw 17 against Ontario)
Second: Blisse Joyce (80% – Tied for Eighth)
Third: Jill Brothers (79% – Tied for Sixth)
Skip: Heather Smith (78% – Fifth)
Sandra Schmirler Award (MVP): Rachel Homan
First Team All Stars: Teri Lake (Nova Scotia), Allison Kreviazuk (Team Canada), Emma Miskew (Team Canada), Rachel Homan (Team Canada)
Second Team All Stars: Morgan Court (Ontario), Sherri Singler (Saskatchewan), Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan), Chelsea Carey (Manitoba)
Marj Mitchell Sportsmanship Award: Sherry Anderson (Saskatchewan)