For the second straight year, there is a bit of a tweak to the lineup of Team Croisier, as the talented local curling rink welcomes the addition of vice Rachel Steele to the fold.
And like every other Sudbury based team, early season practices are a no go, at least in the Nickel City, with none of the local clubs installing their ice until the very tail-end of October or early November.
So it is no small wonder that Bella Croisier (skip), Steele, Emilie Lovitt (second) and Piper Croisier (lead) are not about to fret a whole lot over wins and losses in the opening few bonspiels of the year.
And we haven't even touched on the effects of the pandemic.
"Getting back on the ice is great and everything, but we are a new team, so we're focusing a lot on team dynamics, both on the ice and off the ice," said Bella Croisier. "We're just trying to make sure that we are building a strong foundation for this year and getting ready for next season."
"We're not worried about the results too much."
Still, it was nice to return from the recent U21 Royal Slam at the K-W Granite Club with a winning record, mixing in victories over Parker Doig (8-6), Tori Zemmelink (7-6) and Erica Wheatley (8-5) with losses to Sarah Bailey (5-6) and Emily Deschenes (3-7).
"We're definitely improving, that's for sure," said Croisier. "It's about the long game at this point. Improvement is really nice to see, but honestly, we haven't had practices, so we were not expecting huge results until we get a solid couple of months of practice under us."
With the U21 nationals already cancelled by Curling Canada, it is entirely possible that the Croisier quartet might compete in even more open women's events than was originally planned, all of which entails a slightly different approach for the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club reps.
"We are still adjusting to the strategy of the ladies game," acknowledged Croisier. "It's not necessarily as much about us being a new team, but more that it's a different style of game. It's a different environment thinking two shots ahead, where that's not as drastic at the U18 and U21 levels."
Assisting that process this year is highly acclaimed northern curling coach Andrea Ronnebeck, who has worked with the likes of Sherry Middaugh, Rachel Homan and Tracy Fleury in the past.
The education manager for the NOCA (Northern Ontario Curling Association) will toil alongside coach Shawn Croisier, as their young curlers look to embrace the knowledge that is shared.
"We've been focusing hard on building this team, off-ice, but then putting everything together on the ice is a completely different aspect to it," said Croisier. All of which circles us back to the prevailing sentiment in local sports, these days, or at least the local sports who are enjoying some form of competition.
"Honestly, I am just grateful that I am curling at all this year," said Croisier. "Not a lot of sports are able to play right now. I'm just happy to be able to get out on the ice, doing something that I love."