Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Carey thriving in heat of playoff race

Manitoba tied for second after two wins Tuesday

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MONTREAL -- With six Scotties round-robin games in her rearview mirror, Chelsea Carey passed the midway pole Tuesday sitting pretty as a skip could be.

Well, almost. Still healthy despite the flu bug that tore through Maurice Richard Arena on Day 4 of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Carey's rink curled two solid games for two straightforward wins to stretch their win streak to four and rise to 5-1 on the week. That puts Manitoba in the heart of the playoff chase, tied for second place with Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton, who Carey beat Sunday. The leader, defending Canadian champion Rachel Homan, improved to 6-0.

Yeah, that's a nice place to be, though the team knows they can't afford to check out just yet.

"We're in good position, but it doesn't mean anything if we don't finish it off," Carey said after her second game of the day, padding in sock feet around the arena's concrete floor. "It just sort of never seems to end. 'If we can get through today, we'll feel better.' You say that every day until the end of the round robin, and it's never true until it's over."

Still, Tuesday was a big day for the foursome, after they had a shaky start to the tournament and some luck Monday to keep the win streak alive. But Tuesday, they looked more like the Carey crew local curling fans have come to know. They were confident in a 5-3 win over Newfoundland's Heather Strong (4-3), sealing it with a ninth-end steal of one but they would have held the hammer coming home anyway.

Then, after an afternoon break, they were back on the ice at night to cruise past young Yukon phenom Sarah Koltun, and take that match 10-4. (In a funny coincidence, on adjacent sheets both Carey's rink and Team Canada's Rachel Homan were leading their games 10-2 after even ends.) After stealing three in the fifth end, and sitting four in the seventh, the Manitobans just peeled off rocks in the eighth to bring on the handshakes again.

Was it as easy as it looked? Well, Koltun is just 20, the darling of this Scotties and with a lot of talent shining through.

"She made a couple of absolute pistols early," said Carey, whose shotmaking sat at a sparkling 98 per cent that game. "We had all kinds of pressure on them, but she was just bailing 'em out. So we sort of just stayed patient, and eventually we got it. It wasn't even her fault, she didn't even have a shot in the end where we stole three."

But yeah, the house was a little clogged up, hence the gaudy score. Carey grinned.

"I used to play exactly the same way," she said of Koltun.

"Like a million rocks in play, and no fear, and you can make everything. She's impressive, she made a lot of shots... it's fun to see that. I remember being that way too, but I was never at a Scotties, so good for her."

The Manitobans continue their campaign this afternoon against Quebec's Allison Ross (1-6) and then again tonight, when they face New Brunswick's Andrea Crawford (4-3).

melissa.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 5, 2014 $sourceSection0

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