LONDON, Ont. -- It has been a long time coming for Carey Burgess.
Before hooking up with Janet Harvey, the Thunder Bay, Ont., native had competed in four Ontario women's championships -- losing three finals while playing for Heather Houston. Her luck hadn't been much better in Manitoba until this year, when she won her seventh provincial championship in her new province, and 11th overall.
"Yes, finally," Burgess breathed as she prepared for her national Scott Tournament of Hearts earlier this week. "It feels a little surreal."
Harvey was playing Team Canada's Jennifer Jones in the opening game of the Scott for both at the John Labatt Centre last night.
Coming to London, Ont., is a homecoming of sorts for Harvey's lead, whose parents will be meeting her here. Burgess is quite familiar with Krista Scharf's Ontario team, which also hails from Thunder Bay. In fact, she played with three of them, including Lorraine Lang, who played lead for Houston when Burgess played with her.
"It's my first time and her (Lang's) first time getting back at the same time," said Burgess, 32.
Burgess moved to Winnipeg in 1998 to start a business (Fund Factory) with Harvey, whom she met on the cashspiel circuit. The two-woman operation helps schools and others to raise funds for various projects. And they decided to curl together, too.
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan's Tracy Streifel upset B.C.'s Kelly Scott 6-5 in an extra end; N.B.'s Andrea Kelly surprised P.E.I.'s Suzanne Gaudet 9-3; and Ontario's Scharf upended a game Yukon/N.W.T.'s Kerry Koe 13-9 in an extra end in the afternoon.
"It was a great way to start," said the relatively unknown Streifel. "We're very happy with that comeback. It's a booster for us but we played well all the way through, so win or lose, we would have come off that feeling really good about how we started our opening match."
Scott, who lost the Canadian Curling Trials final to Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink in December, is regarded as one of the favourites here.
"It's just a shame because we were in a good position to win that one and we didn't get the W," she said. "But we had a good game, lots of shots were made and we had a good handle on the ice."
In her Scott debut, Kelly cracked fours in the fourth and seventh ends to embarrass Gaudet.
"It's pretty exciting," said the former national junior champ. "We've never actually started off a national event with a win, so this is huge to start off the week this way.
"That was a really good game for us. We scored high and I guess that gives us some momentum to take into the next game. I guess maybe we'll gain a little respect."
Kelly, Gaudet, Streifel and Scott were all playing again last night.
Both Jennifer Jones and Harvey play Newfoundland's Heather Strong and Quebec's Eve Belisle today.