Eight women’s teams start play Thursday at Silver Fox in Summerside

SUMMERSIDE – The retirement of Suzanne Birt has caused a seismic shift inside the Prince Edward Island curling landscape.  The winner of 14 P.E.I. Scotties titles over the past 21 years has stepped back this season. After dominating women’s curling on P.E.I. for most of the past two decades, Birt’s decision has thrown the provincial Scotties field wide open, and with no clear favourite for the ladies crown, this week’s championship is expected to be among the most competitive in years.


A strong field of eight teams has entered the Scotties modified triple knockout playdowns which starts Thursday at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club in Summerside and wraps up Sunday.  The winner will represent the province at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada’s national women’s curling championship, February 16 to 25 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alta.


Although she retired last spring, Birt wasn’t quite done on the provincial curling scene this season.  In November, Birt and her 2001 world junior women’s championship team were among the newest inductees into the P.E.I. Curling Hall of Fame. Other members of that world champion team were Robyn MacPhee, Kelly Higgins, Stephanie Richard and coach Paul Power. Carol Webb was the alternate.


Starting in 1998, Birt (then Suzanne Gaudet) skipped provincial junior winning teams for five consecutive seasons, highlighted by 2001 world gold in Ogden, Utah. After winning another Canadian junior title on home ice in Summerside in 2002, Gaudet won bronze at the worlds in Kelowna, B.C. She then graduated into the women’s ranks in 2003 and never looked back. 


There is little doubt that Birt and her powerful women’s teams deserve recognition and re-entry into the P.E.I. hall on their own merits for impressive displays on the national Scotties stage.  Most recently, Birt was joined by teammates Marie Christianson, Meaghan Hughes and Michelle McQuaid to dominate provincial Scotties play, winning P.E.I. titles the past five years. Recent alternates at the nationals with Birt-skipped teams included veteran Kathy O’Rourke and Sinead Dolan.  In 2022, there was no P.E.I. Scotties playdown because of Covid issues and Birt and her team were designated by Curl PEI as its provincial representative. 


Christianson, who played with Birt as an import for the past five years, joined the Heather White / Jill Brothers rink as second stone and helped them win the NS Scotties title on the weekend over defending champion Christina Black in the deciding game. Erin Carmody, of Summerside, is lead stone on the team skipped by Smith but where Brothers throws fourth stones.


Summerside Scotties organizers have announced there will be a small admission fee charged for spectators this week. For non-members of the Silver Fox Curling Club, it’s $5/day or $15 for four days; members of Silver Fox, $3 per day or $10 for four days.


The Scotties is also being held in conjunction with the provincial men’s Tankard championships.


2024 PEI Scotties Teams


This week, newcomer Sophie Blades of Summerside will skip three members of the recently crowned P.E.I. U-18 champions — longtime Cornwall teammates Ella Lenentine, Makiya Noonan and Erika Pater. Reid Hart is the alternate on the team coached by Robbie Lenentine. The Summerside team is young but has lots of provincial and national experience, and is playing on familiar ice.


Skip Tammy Dewar of Montague has assembled a strong team, including import Samantha Crook from the Capital Winter Club in Fredericton, N.B., and two players from Cornwall — second stone Kaleigh MacKay and lead Sarah Doak, who also has lots of N.B. Scotties experience. Dewar’s team is playing in Cornwall’s Tuesday competitive league this season.


Skip Jane DiCarlo, who is also president of Curl P.E.I., has a solid team based out of the Crapaud Curling Club which includes mate Veronica Smith, second stone Sabrina Smith and lead Whitney Jenkins.


Lauren Ferguson, out of the Halifax Curling Club, skips a Cornwall-based team of third Sydney Howatt, second stone Aleya Quilty, lead Rachel O’Connor and alternate Breanne Burgoyne. They are mentored by longtime local coach Pat Quilty. 


Veteran Darlene London, who just finished skipping her team to silver at last week’s provincial Masters at her home Montague club, will be tough to beat. She is joined by mate Robyn MacDonald, second Shelley Rice and lead Gail Greene.


Skip Melissa Morrow is joined by third stone Darcee Birch, second stone Michelle MacIntyre; lead Miranda Ellis, and alternate Kacey Gauthier. The team is affiliated with the Crapaud Curling Club.


Amanda Power is skipping a team out of Cornwall, who also play in the club’s competitive Tuesday night league. Other team members include mate Sara Spafford, second stone Emily Best and alternate Janique LeBlanc. Joining the Power squad for the Scotties is veteran lead Shelly Bradley who skipped her own team at three Scotties — the last in 2001 — and who was a member of several Birt teams, the latest as mate in 2015.


Rounding out the women’s field is Jenny White, who is curling out of the Crapaud Community Curling Club. She is joined by mate Lauren MacFadyen, veteran second stone Jackie Reid, and Alison Griffin-Waddell. 


Schedule, teams, draw and results can be found here: https://peicurling.com/results/#/events/17914.

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