Team Tippin ramping up its game at Home Hardware Road to the Roar (Curling Canada)

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — An opening-day loss on Monday at the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar Pre-Trials has been long forgotten by Julie Tippin and her teammates.

Skip Julie Tippin directs sweepers Rachelle Vink, left, and Tess Bobbie during Wednesday action. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Tippin’s Woodstock, Ont., lineup — third Chantal Duhaime, second Rachelle Vink, lead Tess Bobbie and coach Barry Westman — won its second straight game Wednesday evening at Credit Union Place, cruising to a 7-3 win over Theresa Breen of Halifax (2-2).

The win propelled Team Tippin (2-1) into a tie for top spot in Pool A of the 14-team, two-pool women’s competition, deadlocked with Edmonton’s Kelsey Rocque, who lost her first game on Wednesday.

Tippin said the Day 1 loss to Winnipeg’s Shannon Birchard was relatively easy to get over.

“We just didn’t come out super strong; we struggled a little bit with the ice when it was really humid outside, so we had trouble getting our draw weight,” explained Tippin, 34. “But since then, the ice has been completely different. It’s much colder outside, there’s no frost, and all of the draw weight has been really consistent. And we’re playing much better.”

The Team Tippin fans have been enthusiastic this week in Summerside. (Photo, Curling Canada)

That mastery of draw weight has been a key in the team’s two-game win streak, which included a 7-5 win over Calgary’s Nadine Scotland on Tuesday.

“We knew that once we got a handle on draw weight, we’d be able to come out much stronger,” she said. “Confidence in draw weight is a big thing, especially for a skip. You need to be able to draw the four-foot all the time, and until you get that, you’re not going to be in games. Today I felt a lot better, I had great draw weight.”

Tippin, who fired an 88 per cent game at Team Breen, raced to an early lead by scoring one in the second end, stealing two in the third and one more in the fourth and never looked back.

That set up what should be a nice evening with the friends and family that have invaded Summerside, taking over one of the luxury boxes at Credit Union Place, and contributing to the team having a chance to relax and forget about high-stakes curling for a few hours.

“They rented the box a long time ago,” said Tippin with a smile. “I think we had 23 people here today, friends, families and sponsors — it’s  pretty amazing. We have a lot of support. It makes the experience so wonderful; we’ve been spending time with the between games, going out for dinners, and it makes for a fun week. We did a lot of planning for the week and making sure we take time away from the rink. We’ve travelled a lot and we found when we got out, saw some sights, did some different things, it worked best for us.”

Three sheets over, Rocque’s Edmonton team was taking its first defeat, bowing 7-5 to Team Birchard (2-2).

In other women’s games (the men had the bye), Winnipeg’s Briane Meilleur (2-2) handed Kerri Einarson (2-1; East St. Paul, Man.) her first loss, racing to an 8-3 victory; Jacqueline Harrison (2-1; Mississauga, Ont.) drew to the button in an extra end for an 8-7 win over Winnipeg’s Darcy Robertson (1-3); and Team Scotland (2-2) was a 6-3 winner over Shannon Kleibrink (1-2; Okotoks, Alta.).

Jacqueline Harrison was an extra-end winner on Wednesday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The Pre-Trials teams are seeded one through 14 based on their 2016-17 CTRS rankings, and split into two pools of seven for the round-robin competition.

The top three teams from each pool will advance to the playoffs beginning on Saturday, with the first- and second-place teams crossing over to meet each other in the first round of the A-side. The winners will then meet for the first Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings berth.

The first-round losers, meanwhile, will drop to meet the third-place teams in each pool in the first round of the B-side. The winners of the two games will then meet, with the winner taking on the A-side final loser for the second Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings berth.

The Home Hardware Road to the Roar is the final qualifying event for teams to reach the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, Dec. 2-10 in Ottawa, where Canada’s four-player curling teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be decided.

The 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar continued on Wednesday with a draw at 8 p.m. (all times Atlantic). On Thursday, draws are set for 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Home Hardware Road to the Roar are available at!/

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