Birt be­gins quest to re­peat to­day at P.E.I. Scot­ties in Mon­tague

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Suzanne Birt is look­ing to re­peat as P.E.I. Scot­ties women’s curl­ing cham­pion with a new team this year.

The quest be­gins to­day at the Mon­tague Curl­ing Rink where the six-team tour­na­ment is be­ing hosted.

Birt and team­mates Shel­ley Bradley, Michelle McQuaid and Su­san McInnis de­feated Kathy O’Rourke’s squad 10-4 in last year’s fi­nal. It was Birt’s eighth pro­vin­cial women’s ti­tle.

This year, Birt is team­ing up with third Robyn Green, se­cond Meaghan Hughes and lead Marie Chris­tian­son. Green and Birt won two Cana­dian and a world cham­pi­onship to­gether as ju­niors and have played in women’s com­pe­ti­tions to­gether.

“Robyn and I played to­gether for years, of course, but it’s the first time the four of us (have played) to­gether,” Birt said Thurs­day night. “We’ve played a lot this year. It just feels nat­u­ral and it’s a great group of girls to play with.”

Birt and Kim Dolan’s rink have byes into to­day’s 3 p.m. draw in the mod­i­fied triple-knock­out cham­pi­onship. The 10 a.m. draw sees Lisa Jack­son play­ing Sarah Fuller­ton and Tammy De­war meet­ing Bradley. De­war is from the host club while the other five curl out of the Char­lot­te­town Curl­ing Com­plex.

“All the teams are strong, so the win­ner at the end of the week­end is go­ing to have to play well,” Birt said.

Her team prac­tised in Mon­tague be­fore Christ­mas, played four games last week­end there in a tour­na­ment and prac­tised there this week. Birt said her team mem­bers are look­ing for­ward to the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter lots of work to pre­pare them for dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios they might en­counter at the pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship.

“We’re not scared to play with rocks in play and we can hit and de­fend a lead,” she said.

If a team wins all three sec­tions, the cham­pi­onship round will not be re­quired. The win­ner ad­vances to the na­tional Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts Feb. 20-28 in Grande Prairie, Alta.

Five teams will also take part in the P.E.I. Fu­ture Scot­ties event, an un­der-21 com­pe­ti­tion, in con­junc­tion with the women’s com­pe­ti­tion. Skips of the Fu­ture Scot­ties teams are Alexis Bur­ris, Emma Cof­fin, Lau­ren Fer­gu­son, Rachel Ma­cLean and Kate­lyn Shaw. Bur­ris, Cof­fin and Ma­cLean are from the Corn­wall Curl­ing Club, Shaw is from the Char­lot­te­town Curl­ing Com­plex and Fer­gu­son’s rink is com­prised of ath­letes from Western, Cra­paud and Sil­ver Fox clubs.

Play be­gins Satur­day. Both com­pe­ti­tions are spon­sored by Kruger Prod­ucts.

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