SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — These Islander kids are all right.
This Steeltown has been abuzz all week over the play of two slim lasses just out of junior who have led the Prince Edward Island squad into the playoffs at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts this week.
Erin Carmody, who throws the last brick and third Geri-Lynn Ramsay have shocked the experts with their ability to execute key shots under pressure all week. With veteran Kathy O'Rourke calling the game and throwing second stone, P.E.I. clinched a berth into Friday's Page playoff one-two game with a 9-4 victory over Newfoundland's Shelley Nichols at the Essar Centre Thursday morning.
"It's a pretty crazy feeling," said Ramsay, 21. "It's like twilight zone. Actually, we call it 'Erin zone.'"
Indeed, Carmody has been zoned in most of the week, leading P.E.I. to an 8-3 record and a first-place finish.
Team Canada's Jennifer Jones clipped Ontario's Krista McCarville 6-5 Thursday night to finish second and will face P.E.I. in Friday's Page playoff one-two game.
B.C.'s Kelly Scott defeated Newfoundland's Shelley Nichol 8-2 and was awarded third place based on her team's rankings in the pre-tourney draw to the button.
Manitoba's Jill Thurston beat Quebec's Eve Belisle 10-4 to advance to a tie-breaker against McCarville Friday. The winner will advance to Saturday's three-four playoff versus Scott.
Although a desperate Scott pasted P.E.I. 10-5, O'Rourke chalked that up to an emotional letdown after clinching the one-two playoff berth earlier in the day.
But no one expected P.E.I. to earn a berth into the one-two playoff.
"To say we came here thinking we were absolutely going to be in that one-two game? No," said O'Rourke. "Am I surprised that the team has played so well and this is where we ended up at the end of the week? No, I knew we had the potential to play well."
Ramsay had a different take.
"Surprised? Not really surprised but it's really impressive how we're playing," she said.
The youngsters have been curling with each other since they were in about Grade 2.
But they were bright enough to realize they would need a more experienced curler to mentor them and gave O'Rourke a call.
"It's just amazing to watch those two," said O'Rourke, 45. "I don't see really any nerves at all, even off the ice."
Calling the game for Carmody, 21, has taken pressure off the youngster.
"I knew, from skipping here, that mentally, you get tired and physically, it affects you," said O'Rourke, who has been to five Hearts tourneys. "So, for Erin, it's a little easier. She doesn't have the stress on her mentally.
"The skip is supposed to make the right line calls and the right ice calls for the rest of the team. It's actually hard on you if you're not calling the right ice. Your teammates certainly kind of get frustrated with you."