Scott preparation on target

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:16 AM ET

The ice may be out of most curling clubs but that doesn't mean things are cooling off much for the people behind the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts.

So far, nearly 1,000 weekly ticket passes have been sold for the national women's championship Feb. 25-March 5 at the John Labatt Centre.

"That means 21,000 tickets already," a clearly happy tournament chair Peter Inch said from Toronto. "That was our goal (for this point) and we've hit it.

"We were confident when we asked for the event and set targets. But we can't sit back now. We've got to keep going."

To that end, the organizers are planning a full schedule of appearances over the coming months to keep the Hearts in the minds of Southwestern Ontario curling fans. Starting with this weekend's London Home Show at the Western Fair grounds, organizers will also be at the various events in Victoria Park as well as area golf tournament, Inch said.

The overall goal is 6,000 weekly passes and Inch said he wasn't concerned about attention being diverted by the Memorial Cup at the JLC next month.

"You're going to have your diehard curling fans and they're always going to call," he said.

As well, about 300 volunteers have signed up for the event and Inch said another 350 or so are needed. Those interested can call him at 640-8926, event co-ordinator Gord McNabb at 645-2875 or visit www.tournamentofhearts.ca.

BANNER MONTH FOR ILDERTON

Women's rinks skipped by Kerry Lackie and Amie Coward capped off the season in style for the Ilderton Curling Club, winning three provincial titles in as many weeks.

Lackie and her intermediate (35 and over) rink of Cathy Cassidy, Lori Clarke and Alison Muirhead beat Suzanne Boudreault of Guelph 6-4 in a tiebreaker in Meaford, stealing single points in the second, third, seventh and eighth ends.

Both rinks finished the round-robin at 5-2 and Lackie had to steal one in the 11th end for a 9-8 win over Boudreault in the final round-robin draw to force the extra game.

Coward and her rink of Kim Tuck, Jennie Urbshott and Christine Hinsperger followed up with a 7-6 win over Kristy Russell of Orangeville in the trophy tiebreaker the next week in Kingsville, stealing the winner in the 10th end.

Coward was also a bit lucky to force a tiebreaker after the rinks tied for the round-robin lead at 5-2. In the last draw, Coward stole two in the 10th for an 8-6 win over Francine Poisson of Alexandria while Russell was losing 11-8 to Barb Kelly of Carleton Place, who stole three in the ninth.

The Coward rink has been together for nine years. Tuck, who also earned a berth in December's Olympic trials in Halifax playing for Brantford's Jo-Ann Rizzo, said playing with Coward provides a break from the stress of the high-level cashspiel and Tournament of Hearts circuit.

"We're all really, really good friends and it's definitely a lot of fun, but don't kid yourself. When you're actually out there playing, it's just as competitive as anything else."

The Ilderton triactor was capped in the two-team, total-points tankard final at Ajax Annandale, when Lackie and Coward teamed to beat Uxbridge rinks skipped by Ann Proctor and Susan Kovacs by a point. Coward's rink was unchanged, while Lackie had Sara Gatchell -- Tuck's front-end teammate with Rizzo -- at third, with Cassidy and Clarke both moving up a spot.

It was the third straight tankard crown for the Lackie-Coward combination.

"The whole way you play the game is different; you start playing strategy you normally wouldn't," Tuck said. "For instance, we could be down but still peeling rocks because our other rink is winning and we don't want to give up any more points.

"You really play the scoreboard."


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