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Kendra Lilly and Team McCarville to compete in Scotties final

Within the local open women's curling scene in Sudbury, it's easy for Kendra Lilly to find herself sometimes in the shadow of Tracy Fleury.

In fact, it's both easy and understandable.

Fleury, who has curled out of Manitoba the past few years with a rink that features Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish, remains among the more active participants in the high end women's curling circuit, a regular at Grand Slam events and the like.

Earlier this season, Team Fleury had accumulated enough points to top the rankings in terms of world seedings.

But make no mistake - the curling resume that Kendra Lilly can boast might only be equalled by a handful of female curlers in the country. Though completely committed to a schedule that sees them playing far fewer events than many of the other contenders in the field this week, Lilly and her rink consistently make the most of their opportunities on the big stage.

And come Sunday night, it will be Lilly, along with skip Krista McCarville and the front-end tandem of Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts who will be contesting the final of the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, with a trip to the Worlds on the line.

All of this thanks to a magical week at home (we can say "home", because all three of Lilly's teammates are residents of Thunder Bay - host city to the 2022 national bonspiel) that continued Saturday night with a 9-8 extra end win over Andrea Crawford of New Brunswick in the #1/#2 page playoff matchup game.

While the initial dream of event organizers in northwestern Ontario would be to welcome a jammed-packed arena of Team McCarville supporters for the final, the Omicron variant had other plans.

Still, the decision to allow registered volunteers and Future Stars to attend in person has provided more than enough support, according to McCarville.

"They're very vocal: lots of cheering, lots of noisemakers," she said during a post-game interview. "The funny thing is that they make us laugh as well. They definitely bring us up, for sure."

"The voices we can hear are our family and loved ones. It does bring you up and boost you, for sure."

This win was anything but a cakewalk for the hometown favourites. Trailing 7-3 after seven ends, McCarville and company chipped away at the lead, pulling even with a deuce in the tenth and then taking it home with a steal of one in the 11th end.

Should Team McCarville capture the Scotties on Sunday, they will make history as the first Northern Ontario representative team to accomplish the feat.

Thunder Bay native Heather Houston and her rink twice took home the crown as Canadian champions, in 1988 and 1989, but they did so having earned the right to represent Ontario at the Scotties.

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