The Tracy Fleury Manitoba-based rink that includes Selena Njegovan (vice), Liz Fyfe (second) and Kristin MacCuish (lead) continues to gather momentum, with their bid to repeat as provincial champs and return to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts rapidly approaching.
Coming off the first Grand Slam win of her career last month in North Bay, Fleury skipped her team to a second place finish at the prestigious Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling in Leduc (AB) last weekend.
Not only did their crew expand the already impressive resume compiled over the course of less than 18 months curling together, but Team Fleury also secured a berth on the Canadian entry that will take part in the 2020 OK Tire & BKT Tires Continental Cup in London January 9th to the 12th, 2020.
The pride of Sudbury and her rink opened with a 13-3 dismantling of the Robyn Silvernagle foursome from North Battleford (SK), stringing together a run of 3-2-2 between the third and fifth ends. A four-ender in the first end set the tone in game two as the Fleury and her defending Manitoba championship team doubled Chelsea Carey of Calgary, 10-5.
Their only setback in preliminary round action would come in the fourth draw, dropping a 10-7 decision to the Rachel Homan rink, but rebounding to knock off both Kerri Einarson (8-3) and Jennifer Jones (7-4).
The Fleury quartet would earn a share of first place with an 8-5 win over Casey Scheidegger (Lethbridge, AB), with Cheryl Bernard throwing skip rocks for the Albertans, as the winners snapped a 5-5 tie, taking two in the ninth with the hammer, and adding a steal of one in the 10th end.
Because of their loss to Homan earlier in the week, Team Fleury would have to survive the semi-final, which they did with authority, scoring three in the first, building a 6-1 lead after five, and easing through to the final with a 9-4 win over Chelsea Carey.
Time for a rematch with Rachel Homan and once again, the Ottawa reps are right on their game, putting a huge four up on the board in the third and pulling away for a 9-4 win over Fleury and company.
Despite the loss, the consolation of a second place finish, combined with the news that they will be joining Brendan Bottcher, Kevin Koe, John Epping, Chelsea Carey and Rachel Homan on the Canadian contingent that will do battle with Team Europe (Niklas Edin, Peter de Cruz, Bruce Mouat, Anna Hasselborg, Silvana Tirinzoni, Eve Muirhead) in January was more than enough positive news for the local skip.
Meanwhile, across the border in Eveleth (Minnesota), the Thunder Bay crew of Krista McCarville, vice and Sudbury native Kendra Lilly, and the front-end of Ashley Sippala and Sarah Potts were back to defend their crown at the Curl Mesabi Classic.
McCarville kick-started a flawless run, spotting American Cassie Potter a 3-0 lead in game one, but roaring back for a 6-4 win, following that up with a 5-4 victory over fellow Thunder Bay skip, Hailey Beaudry.
Day two was equally as kind as McCarville and her defending NOCA banner-winning squad stopped both Theresa Cannon of Winnipeg (5-3) and Minnesotan Cora Farrell 6-5.
The team continued their winning ways through three rounds of the playoffs, besting Theresa Cannon for a second time in the quarter-finals (5-3), tripling Cassie Potter in the semis (6-2), and throttling Laura Walker of Edmonton 7-1 in the final, bursting out to a 5-0 lead after two ends of play.
The Mesabi event has been more than kind to local folks, with McCarville and Lilly also part of the winning team in 2015, while Tracy Fleury and her rink having captured the bonspiel one year earlier.