Sweeping away competition

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

Imagine how shocked the hockey world would be if, say, the Ottawa 67's decided to play an NHL team ... and ended up winning. The same sort of thing has been happening at the Canada Cup East cashspiel with 19-year-old skip Andrea Kelly and her team from New Brunswick.

Not one member of the squad is over the age of 20, yet they've handled this pressure-cooker cashspiel like a bunch of vets -- even with a berth in next winter's Olympic Trials on the line.

"We've been playing like we've got nothing to lose," said Kelly, the defending New Brunswick junior women's champ.

That philosophy has worked for Kelly and her teammates, 18-year-old vice Kristen MacDiarmid, 19-year-old second Jodie deSolla and 20-year-old Lianne Sobey.

The young upstarts expected nothing more than to gain valuable experience in the tournament, using it as a tune-up for their provincial junior playdowns next month.

BEAT MCGHEE

But they started off with a win over veteran Ontario skip Janet McGhee (formerly Brown) in the opening round, and the victories continued.

They beat Colleen Madonia, another regular on the Ontario women's tour, defeated former Quebec women's champ and Welton-Beauchamp titlist Chantal Osborne, and completed the run with an extra-end shootout win in an A-side final on Friday against Toronto's Chrissy Cadorin.

That last result gave the young Maritimers yesterday off, and a bye into today's eight-team championship round where they will be seeded eighth.

A victory in this morning's quarter-final, where Kelly's squad will play No. 1 seed and defending Ontario champ Sherry Middaugh at the Rideau Curling Club, would not only guarantee the team a $6,000 paycheque, but it would also give it a spot at the Strauss Canada Cup in Kamloops, B.C., in March.

"Nobody really knew who we were heading into this tournament," said Kelly. "I think we've turned some heads for sure."

Kelly, MacDiarmid and deSolla were part of a team that won a bronze medal at the 2003 Canada Winter Games in Bathurst, N.B.

Sobey later joined the squad, and last February at the junior nationals in Victoria, B.C., it advanced to the playoffs before bowing out in the semi-final to Quebec's Marie-Christine Cantin.

"Andrea really knows the game well," said Jerry McCann, the team's alternate coach who subbed for coach Paul Green after he became ill earlier in the week.

"The team is so smart that when the skip makes a mistake, they pick up on it. There's been situations this week where she might call the wrong shot, and the team will step in and suggest another way, and she listens to them."

Regardless of what happens during today's championship round, their main goal of the year is to repeat as junior champs and represent the province at the Karcher Juniors, being hosted by their home club in Fredericton in February.

"We're just going to have to go in and play our own game and see what comes out of it," said Kelly.

"We like to keep it simple for the first few ends and then get some rocks in play later, but we prefer to let them throw the hard shots."

CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

Teams were seeded 1-28, based on curling's Canadian Team Ranking System, prior to tournament. Top seed will face the lowest qualifying seed in quarter-finals.

MEN

Quarter-finalists (10 a.m.;

OTTAWA CURLING CLUB)

- (2) Russ Howard, Moncton, N.B. vs. (24) Wayne Tuck, London

- (5) Mike Harris, Georgetown vs. (6) Jean-Michel Menard, Aylmer

- (3) Wayne Middaugh, Victoria Harbour vs. (18) Shawn Adams, Upper Tantallon, N.S.

- (4) Brad Gushue, St. John's vs. (8) Peter Corner, Oakville

SEMI-FINALS

(2 p.m.; Rideau)

- Howard or Tuck vs. Harris or Menard

- Middaugh or Adams vs. Gushue or Corner

Final

- 6:30 p.m.; Rideau

WOMEN

Quarter-finalists (10 a.m.;

Rideau Curling Club)

- (1) Sherry Middaugh, Victoria Harbour vs. (22) Andrea Kelly, Perth-Andover, N.B.

- (2) Marie-France Larouche, St-Jean-Chrysostome, Que. vs. (17) Jo-Ann Rizzo, London

- (4) Heather Smith-Dacey, Halifax vs. (12) Melissa McClure, Moncton, N.B.

- (6) Chrissy Cadorin, Thornhill vs. (8) Anne Merklinger, Ottawa

SEMI-FINALS

(2 p.m.; Rideau)

- Middaugh or Kelly vs. Cadorin or Merklinger

- Larouche or Rizzo vs. Smith-Dacey or McClure

Final

- 6:30 p.m.; Rideau

Money Dispersal

Quarter-final loss -- $4,250

Semi-final loss -- $6,000

Runners-up -- $8,000

Winners -- $12,000


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