'Family Day' perfect time for Team Lawes to turn fate around at Scotties

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Kaitlyn Lawes has learned a lot about her teammates since coming together two years ago.

Time now to put that to practice at the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, following a rocky start by the Winnipeg rink at the national women’s curling championship in Calgary.

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“I’ve learned that we can lean on each other and support each other,” said Lawes, when talking about her squad — Manitoba’s provincial champions, comprised of the 35-year-old skip, third Selena Njegovan, second Jocelyn Peterman and lead Kristin MacCuish.

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“We bring out the best when we’re just having fun and communicating,” continued Lawes. “When we’re doing that, anything is possible.”

They’re hoping at these Scotties that a rebound is possible, after dropping the first two games of the 18-team event at WinSport.

Respective Friday and Saturday losses to Alberta’s Selena Sturmay — 7-5 — and Saskatchewan’s Skylar Ackerman — 8-6 — put Lawes & Co. in an early hole that’s made even tougher by such a deep and talented field at the championship.

And it’s not like the Fort Rouge Curling Club crew is one of the also-rans here.

As contenders, the Manitoba queens help to make it one of the most explosive Scotties.

“We don’t go into any event without that goal of winning,” Lawes said. “The goal is to win. We want to be Team Canada. Whatever that looks like, we’re going to just take it one game at a time.”

Cue Monday — the holiday aptly named ‘Family Day’ for Lawes and her ‘sisters’ of the squad — when they came together to try and rise up from the 0-2 deficit.

First came a morning victory over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Stacie Curtis 8-3.

Then came a chance to get back to .500 with an evening win over Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges. Without a win in that one, it’s a thin line to reach the playoffs here.

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“You want that pressure — that’s what we play for, ” Lawes said. “I’m excited to see who gets into playoffs.”

Of course, they’re hoping it’s them.

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“We’re feeling confident,” added Peterman. “We’re looking forward to playing on the weekend. That’s the first step — and then we’ll see where we go from there.”

Much of the confidence among the Team Lawes stars stems from the bond of ‘family’ they feel among them.

Three of the members — Lawes, Njegovan and Peterman — are new moms. Lawes’ daughter Mya is 14-months-old, Njegovan’s son Connor is 10-months-old, and Peterman’s son Luke is nine-months-old.

“Last year was a very unique year with three of us having babies,” Lawes said. “It was a lot of moving parts — different lineups. So it feels still like this is our first year together, even though it’s our second year. But it’s been great.

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“We’re building confidence, we’re learning just what everyone needs at each event and each practice. For what I need to do to be a leader on this team, I think that’ll still take a little bit of time.

“We know that we’re putting in time into this and time away from our young families. Thankfully this week, they’re all here with us, so we can show them what the Scotties is all about.”

Peterman is boosted even more by the fact this event is in her backyard.

The 30-year-old Albertan was born and bred in Red Deer, and now lives in Chestermere.

In fact, she’s now in her second life living in the Calgary area — where she once resided for seven years during her university days before leaving for six years to enjoy a successful run — alongside Lawes — with Jennifer Jones in Winnipeg.

“A little different wearing the Manitoba colours and feeling like I’m at home, but it does feel like a home-town Scotties,” Peterman said. “My family will all be here, my house is 30 minutes from here, and my son will be coming to the games.

“So it does feel really cool.”

Peterman and husband Brett Gallant, a fellow second and star in his own right with Brendan Bottcher’s élite crew, moved back to the area in 2022 and soon enough immersed themselves into the curling community.

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“We started the University of Calgary Dinos program,” said Peterman, proudly. “We just felt like it was something here the community was missing, and it was something to keep the youth in the sport and give them an opportunity for some high-performance coaching.”

Peterman and Gallant are joined at the U of C by fellow Calgary curling stars Heather Rogers, the women’s coach, and Laine Peters, the men’s coach.

“They’ve been doing a ton of work with the athletes,” added Peterman. “They’re amazing. They were both coaches at the 2022 Olympics — Laine for the U.S., and Heather for Denmark. So we have a great staff helping us with that.

“Being able to work with these athletes each week and see them develop and see their passion for the sport grow and their drive to want to be at that next level grow is great.”

EXTRA ENDS

Team Canada joined Saskatchewan at 3-1 the in Pool A standings after the defending champs, skipped by Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson, topped B.C.’s Corryn Brown 9-8 early Monday and Ackerman lost to Québec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-3. But they both still trail Alberta’s Selena Sturmay, who is 3-0 and back in action in Monday’s late draw against  Saskatchewan … Also early Monday, it was Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville dropping Prince Edward Island’s Jane DiCarlo 9-5, lifting NO to 2-2 alongside B.C. and Québec. Manitoba went into the evening 1-2, while Newfoundland is 0-3 and P.E.I. is 0-4 … The afternoon draw saw Jones’ Manitoba crew try to improve to 4-0 with a game against New Brunswick’s Melissa Adams (1-2). Rounding out the matinee slot: Rachel Homan’s Ontario side (2-0) played Yukon’s Bayly Scoffin (0-2); B.C.’s Clancy Grandy (2-1) squared off with Nova Scotia’s Heather Smith (1-2) and Ontario’s Danielle Inglis (1-2) met Kate Cameron’s Manitoba squad (2-0) … The evening draw also featured: Northern Ontario versus Newfoundland; Canada v. P.E.I.; and Alberta against Saskatchewan … We’re into Day 4 of the Scotties, and there has still been no explanation as to why Team Canada lead Briane Harris was ruled ineligible for the event.

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