VIRDEN -- It wasn't quite the statement start Chelsea Carey would've scripted for her Scotties, and for a few ends it even threatened to become a stumble.
The result was a win though, and absent style points in the standings of the provincial women's curling championship, a win is all that matters.
So it was that Carey, the top-seeded skip coming into the 2014 Manitoba championship, survived a shaky afternoon tilt against La Salle's Deb McCreanor to wrap the first day of competition undefeated through two games.
That put the 29-year-old and her team, which includes third Kristy McDonald, second Kristen Foster and lead Lindsay Titheridge, in a three-way tie atop her round-robin group's standings.
As for that tight 8-7 win over McCreanor, well, it got the blood pumping.
"It's not exactly how we drew it up at the fifth-end break," Carey said, before being piped back into the arena at Tundra Oil and Gas Place for the opening ceremony Wednesday night. "Close games are good for you. They make you a little bit game-tough and control your nerves. It's probably not a bad thing, it just doesn't feel good at the time."
At first, Carey looked to have the game well in control. It took her just two ends to open up a 4-0 lead over the McCreanor rink, and though her final fourth-end draw came in too light to hold her to a single, she stole another point in the fifth to sit at a 6-1 lead. But this is how fast things can change: McCreanor grabbed a deuce in the sixth, the teams traded singles and then, on her final shot of the ninth end, Carey's draw came up short.
That miss surrendered a steal of two to the McCreanor team, which followed it up with another stolen single in the 10th to bring on extra rocks.
This time, Robin Campbell, who is throwing last rocks for the McCreanor team, couldn't manage a key double takeout with her final rock, allowing Carey to seal the win. "We just got fooled," Carey said. "I threw that draw against two pretty well, I'm not sure what happened to it, whether it hit or picked."
Together with an 8-3 win in the morning over Fort Garry's Quinn Sneisen, that put Carey at 2-0 through the first two of seven round-robin games, where she sat tied atop the black round-robin group with veteran and fourth-seed Darcy Robertson and East St. Paul's Kerri Einarson, who were also undefeated on the first day.
McCreanor, Sneisen and Flin Flon's Patricia Evans sat winless, while East St. Paul's Kim Link and Balmoral's Kate Cameron split their two games.
In the afternoon, the second round-robin group of eight teams played their first game. In her first provincials appearance, 2013 provincial junior champion Shannon Birchard dropped an 11-6 match to veteran skip Janet Harvey, who scored four in the ninth end to seal the win.
Brandon's Kortney Teale eked out a 7-5 win over Fort Rouge Curling Club's Joelle Brown -- to the cheer of the regional crowd -- and Michelle Montford skipped her foursome to a 10-3 win over Brandon's Kelsey Russill.
Finally, veteran Barb Spencer, the second seed coming into the Scotties, dropped Dauphin's Lisa Menard 6-2.
At press time, those eight teams in the bonspiel's black group were wrapping up their second game of the opening day.
Sixteen teams from across Manitoba earned their way to the provincial Scotties, where they were split into two round-robin groups of eight teams each.
After the round robin wraps up on Saturday morning, the top two finishers in each group will get a chance to play on in the playoffs, with the group winners playing each other in a Page playoff for a bye to Sunday afternoon's final, and the second-place finishers battling for a spot in the semifinal.