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Sunday, November 27, 2022

East St. Paul rink struggles at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

By Jim Bender 

The Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts competition in Carberry has proven that Keystone Province curling has a bright future on the female side. 

The three teams that qualified for the playoffs were all in their 20s. Mind you, neither St. Vital’s Olympic-bound Jennifer Jones nor Gimli’s defending Canadian champion Kerri Einarson were in the field. 

One of those three young guns – Altona’s former world junior curling champion Mackenzie Zacharias — edged Assiniboine Memorial’s Kristy Watling 7-5 in the final to win her first women’s provincial title. 

Supported by third Karlee Burgess, her sister Emily Zacharias at second, and Lauren Lenintine, Zacharias will represent Manitoba at the Canadian Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Thunder Bay, Ont., Jan. 28-Feb. 6, 2022 (assuming it is not cancelled or moved due to the pandemic). 

“Pretty excited. The team just absolutely played amazing today,” Zacharias told Sportsnet. “The team is so special. We’ve been together for the past three years now. When we put this team together, we had one goal in mind and that was to win a world junior title and after we were fortunate to do that, we just kept rolling with the punches.” 

They rolled into last year’s Scotties held in Calgary’s Covid bubble as a wild-card team. 

“We got a taste of the Scotties last year,” Zacharias said. “We’ve had a really good provincial Scotties this year. Now, we’re going to go back to the national stage and we’re just so excited for that. 

“Every team there is absolutely fantastic and you can’t take anybody for granted, that’s for sure. I think we were a little star-struck at the beginning when we got there in the bubble and I think we got the nerves out there and hopefully, we can go back there and do some damage this year.” 

Watling had defeated clubmate Kaitlyn Jones 8-6 in the semifinal. 

East St. Paul’s Tracy Fleury, the defending champ, failed to make the playoffs but will have another chance to qualify for the nationals when she curls in the Scotties play-in game due to her team’s top ranking in the Canadian Team Ranking Standings. 

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