Westcott curling’s lucky charm

Raunora Westcott, lead for the Spencer rink, during the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in...

Raunora Westcott, lead for the Spencer rink, during the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Portage La Prairie, Man., Jan. 28, 2012. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:25 AM ET

PORTAGE LA PRARIE, MAN. - Barb Spencer is hoping her new lead will continue her magic touch.

Raunora Westcott has a crack at winning a third straight Manitoba title this year with a third different team.

Westcott won at lead for Fort Rouge's Cathy Overton-Clapham last season, and for Granite's Jill Thurston the year before. Spencer's new squad finished first in her pool and faced Morden's Chelsea Carey in the Page playoff one-versus-one game at the PCU Centre on Saturday night.

The winner advances to Sunday's 1:30 p.m. final. The loser drops into Sunday's 9:30 a.m. semifinal against the winner of the two-two playoff between St. Vital's Jennifer Jones and Miami's surprising Lisa DeRiviere.

So Westcott will have another crack at it.

"I'm not sure what it is," Westcott said. "I guess we'll know for sure on Sunday. It's pretty cool. I don't think about it too much. I don't know if anyone's done that before, where one has gone on three different teams and made it all the way."

Patti Vande won three straight for three different skips in the 1980s but one of those teams was essentially the same with the skip and third switching places.

When Westcott was cut from Thurston's team, she considered sitting the year out. But Overton-Clapham called after she was dumped by St. Vital's Jennifer Jones.

"It wasn't my choice at all to leave the (Overton-Clapham) team," Westcott said. "I had full intentions of playing this year. I knew that Barb was looking for a player and we started talking."

With Karen Klein now at third and Ainsley Champagne at second, Spencer has re-discovered some magic of her own. She finished the week with the best record, 6-1, and is in position to win her fourth Manitoba title.

"We have to come out and play well against everybody, and play our best," Spencer said. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given day."

Klein has come close before, losing the 1999 final to Connie Laliberte when she played for Shauna Streich, and the one-one game to Spencer in 2009 when she played third for Kristy McDonald (nee Jenion), now Carey's third.

"I haven't been in the final since '99, so it would mean a lot to get there, and it would mean a lot to play well," Klein said.

Although Carey lost her last game of the round robin to Fort Rouge's Darcy Robertson, she had already clinched a spot in the one-one playoff.

"At the end of the day, we got first place and that's what we were here for," she said before taking on Spencer. "We'll bounce back. We'll be fine "¦ Certainly, we're not satisfied but this is the one we were looking forward to."

Carey had a fantastic run at the recent Canada Cup where a berth into the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials in Winnipeg was at stake, but lost the final to Jones. After that loss, Carey consulted a sports psychologist.

"We would've changed a lot about that one before the final," she said. "We had a great week. The final was unfortunate but overall, it was a very well-played week. To play that well in that field did a lot for our confidence coming into the second half of the season because we had been playing pretty well but hadn't broken through anything before that week. And we learned a lot from that week.

"But the only you can learn to handle big games like that is to get to big games like that."

The meeting with the psychologist helped as Carey finished first in her pool in one of the best local Scotties fields assembled.

Now she has to psyche herself up for her most important day of the week.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca

twitter@bendersun


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