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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Fleury in familiar territory with an unfamiliar team
by Randy Pascal

One Sudbury native has qualified for the 2019 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

How many more will join her remains to be seen.

Tracy Fleury earned a berth at the Canadian Women's Curling Championships last Sunday, leading her newly-formed team of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish to the Mantioba provincial crown, downing the Kerri Einarson rink 13-7 in a wild affair.

Her upcoming participation at nationals in Sydney (Nova Scotia) marks the third different set of colours that Fleury will have donned for the event, having previously skipped teams which represented both Ontario and Northern Ontario over the course of her storied career.

After posting a record of 6-1 in pool play, Team Fleury would avenge their only round robin loss, defeating Darcy Robertson 8-6 in the 2nd vs 1st page semi-final, earning a berth directly in the final, while Robertson moved on to drop an 11-4 decision to Einarson.

While more than half of the Scotties entries are already known, the NOCA champs will not be crowned until this Sunday. That said, there is a pretty good chance Fleury will be joined by at least one, or more, familiar faces from the Sudbury curling circuits.

The Krista McCarville rink, favourites to emerge and off to a solid 3-0 start, features the long-time Idylwylde Golf & Curling Club tandem of Kendra Lilly (vice) and Jen Gates (second), while the Jenna Enge foursome not only features a former Fleury teammate at skip, in Enge, but also at lead with St Benedict Secondary School graduate Amanda Gates.

Finally, Kira Brunton is right back on the ice, only a week or so removed from her appearance at the Canadian Juniors in Saskatchewan, joining forces with Lyndsey Berlett, Jessica Leonard and Mikalea Cheslock in Nipigon.

As for Team Fleury, they are right back on the road (or in the air, to be more precise), travelling to Banff for the TSN All-Star Curling Skins Game. Ironically, the Kerri Einarson rink is also among the quartet of women's teams taking part, along with Jennifer Jones and Casey Scheidegger, while the men's field is comprised of Brad Gushue, Kevin Koe, Reid Carruthers and Brendan Boettcher.

Nipigon, meanwhile, is also the site of the NOCA Men's Provincial Championships, where the Curl Sudbury based quartet of Tanner Horgan, Mark Kean, Jacob Horgan and Maxime Blais are out of the gates quickly, joining Brad Jacobs (Community First CC – Sault Ste Marie) with a record of 4-0 early on.

UPDATE: Since the time of the submission of this column to the Sudbury Star, Team Horgan has now run the table in round robin play, posting a record of 7-0 and earning a bye directly into the final on Sunday. That stretch of victories included a 9-6 win over Jacobs, who finds himself in second place at 6-1.

Over in Little Current, it will be a younger crew looking to continue to make their mark in the sport as the NOCA U18 Regionals are staged at five different sites across the north. No surprise that the Idylwylde emblem will again be front and center at a youth event, with four of the five teams competing in Region 5 hailing from the Walford Road facility.

On the boys side, Team Branconnier (Samuel Branconnier, Patrik Labrosse, James McVittie, Alex Rhéaume, Sébastien Whissell) and Team Smith (Tyler Smith, Brendan Rajala, Benjamin O'Connor, Ian Deschene, Carson Nelder) will duke it out with a quartet skipped by Malcolm O'Bright of North Bay.

The Idylwylde is guaranteed to be represented at the U18 provincials on the women's side as a two-team battle features the Bella Croisier juggernault (Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier, Lauren Rajala), with the promising young crew of Alexandra Buttery, Bailee Bouffard, Zoe Vallière, Samantha Digiglio and Clara Dissanayake.

Finally, lifelong Coniston Curling Club member Ron Dubuc has been kind enough to keep us in the loop with regards to the venue challenges the group is currently facing. As was reported a couple of weeks ago, the club was forced to close down over some structural concerns with the roof.

And while a series of meetings might not have resulted in a quick fix that Coniston curlers would have hoped for, it certainly did wonders in exemplifying the common bond that unites all those who are passionate about the sport.

“Unfortunately, a temporary fix would take too long and would not be cost effective,” Dubuc noted. “The money that we put in would soon be gone, because that are saying that ultimately, we need a new roof. But all of the other clubs have taken our regular leagues on, for free. The Sudbury curling community is just awesome.”

While Coniston junior curlers are making their way over to the Idylwylde, both Curl Sudbury and the Copper Cliff Curling Club have tweaked their weekly schedules to accommodate as many of the regular Coniston league and weekend bookings as possible. “This allows us to finish our season,” said Dubuc.

In the meantime, insurance assessors will take inventory of the situation, with the shift in the roof structure appearing to be caused by last summer's wind storms, given the prevailing lean of the top of the building. “We'll know more when the insurance company takes a look at it,” said Dubuc.

In addition to a very healthy turnout of Coniston Club members, an emergency meeting two weekends ago also would welcome the likes of Jamie West (MPP), Marc Serré (MP), Mike Jakubo and Deb McIntosh (city councillors) and Curl Sudbury manager Tom Leonard.

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