They were good as gold, for the second straight year.
Kerri Einarson and Team Canada will keep the championship trophy for another year after beating Ontario’s Rachel Homan 9-7 on Sunday night at WinSport Arena at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in the gold-medal game of the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
It was the second straight year that Einarson, vice-skip Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur defeated Homan’s Ontario team in the gold-medal game of the Scotties.
“It means the absolute world to be able to repeat,” said Einarson, who was named the 2021 winner of the Sandra Schmirler Playoff Most Valuable Player Award. “It’s hard to do, and hasn’t been done since 2014 (by Homan). So to do it again, playing against all these amazing teams, is really hard. I’m just so proud and honoured to be able to wear the Maple Leaf again.”
In addition to collecting the top prize of $100,000, the champs (the team is rounded out by alternate Krysten Karwacki and coach Heather Nedohin, a two-time champion herself as a player) will be back at the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., as Team Canada.
Kerri Einarson was named winner of the Sandra Schmirler Playoff MVP Award. (Photo, Curling Canada/Andrew Klaver)
“We were definitely determined to repeat; we missed out on going to worlds (cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic), and we were just so happy to be able to have this event under these circumstances,” said Einarson. “For Curling Canada to make it happen was amazing, and we’re just absolutely honoured to be here right now.”
Canada opened the game with a nicely constructed steal in the first end, but Ontario bounced back with a deuce in the second, and caught a break in the third when Einarson rolled out her shooter on an open hit for two.
But Einarson and Co. immediately went to work in the fourth end, forcing Homan to make a cold draw to the button for a single point, looking at five Team Canada counters.
And in the fifth, Canada kept the pressure on and it resulted in Einarson successfully, this time, executing the open hit with her final stone to score three.
Another force in the sixth, and two more in the seventh on an Einarson draw, and it seemed like the champs were in total control.
Of course it seemed that way last year until Ontario manufactured a late-game comeback with two in the ninth end and, wouldn’t you know it, a steal of two in the 10th before Einarson made the draw for the win in the extra.
Sunday night, Ontario again put together a lead steal of two to tie the game when Einarson’s last-rock raise-takeout attempt in the ninth end rubbed on a guard.
“When we gave up two, I was like, ‘Ooooh, boy, here we go again,’ ” said Einarson with a laugh. “But I wasn’t worried. The girls in front of me were playing so well, I knew they would make their shots. And I knew I would make mine.”
Turns out, she didn’t need to as Homan was heavy with her last-rock freeze attempt.
“They played really well and again it went down to the last rock,” said Homan. “That’s the way curling goes sometimes. But really proud of my team in this first little bonspiel together. I’m really proud of these girls for battling through all week and sticking with me. Just a phenomenal week; we had a chance right to the end and it didn’t go our way.”
For Birchard, it was her third Scotties title in as many attempts; she also won Scotties gold playing vice-skip for Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones in 2018 at Penticton, B.C.
It was the 10th time a Team Canada entry has won the Scotties.
“We just really had fun,” said Einarson. “We didn’t put any pressure on ourselves; we just went to go out, relax, do our thing and not worry about anything else happening around us, or feeling the pressure of being Team Canada. And I think we did an absolutely amazing job of not putting pressure on ourselves to feel that we had to repeat. We just enjoyed every moment.”
Full-event packages are on sale for the 2022 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay.
There will be a short lull in the Calgary curling bubble as the ice surface is prepped for the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, which begins on Friday.