MONTREAL — Manitoba’s Chelsea Carey is a lock for the playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, numerically clinching the advance with a nailbiter 9-8 win in an extra end over Ontario’s Allison Flaxey on Thursday afternoon.
Near the end of the game, it looked like Carey might drop it: she was down 7-5 after eight ends, and holding the hammer in the ninth. That’s not a fun place to be when it comes to scoreboard management, but the Manitoban skip threw a delicate double take-out to score three, taking an 8-7 lead.
Before the shot, she called a time-out to make the shot a team decision.
"I liked trying it, because one down coming home without, I don’t think you win that game," Carey said after. "But that has to be a team decision. I said, ‘as long as you guys are comfortable that we might lose the game on this shot,’ and they all liked it too… If you’re going to lose the game anywhere, why not lose it there?"
The Manitobans managed to force Flaxey to a single in the 10th, and then picked up their winning point in the extra end. It was one of the tightest games Carey has had all week at Scotties, but the skip was expecting it from her former high school teammate.
"We knew it would be a battle," Carey said, though she also felt her squad had a weak performance.
But was she ever tempted to tell her team’s old friend — Flaxey won a Manitoba junior championship alongside Carey lead Lindsay Titheridge, and is close friends with Manitoba second Kristen Foster — to ease up a little? After all, Ontario is already out of the playoff race.
"If I was her, I’d be trying to beat me too," Carey grinned. "I’d be disappointed in her if she wasn’t trying to beat my brains out. That’s the point. You’re friends, but you’re competing… you never lie down for somebody."
The next step for the Manitobans, with two games left in the round robin, is to jockey for a chance to land in the 1 vs. 2 Page playoff game. After Thursday afternoon’s draw, Carey sat in second place at 8-1, just underneath undefeated defending champion Rachel Homan (9-0). Homan barely survived a thrilling challenge from Saskatchewan’s Stefanie Lawton, who fell to 7-2. Carey beat Lawton earlier in the week.
Rounding out the top four is Alberta’s Val Sweeting, who is 7-3 and desperate to win out and stay in the playoff race. Carey and Sweeting face each other on Thursday night at Maurice Richard Arena, and if Carey wins — or Lawton loses — tonight Team Manitoba will clinch second place.