SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — A little Maple Leaf magic may have rubbed off on Ontario's Krista McCarville.
Before Friday's tie-breaker of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, McCarville met Cheryl Bernard, Canada's curling rep at the Winter Olympics, who is in town.
"I rubbed her Maple Leaf so hopefully, that will give us luck for here," McCarville revealed after eliminating Manitoba's Jill Thurston 10-3 in seven ends at the Essar Centre.
But McCarville won more on talent than luck. She made a long raise-takeout to crack a three in the second end and never really looked back.
"We just thought it was risk-versus-reward and if we make it, it's a huge momentum-shift," McCarville said. "We were really pumped up after that. We never got down and we just kept firing and making all our shots."
McCarville advances to Saturday's Page playoff three-four game against B.C.'s Kelly Scott (noon, CST).
"Step 1 is done but we still have a few more games to battle and we'll have a tough one (today)," said McCarville, who clipped Scott 7-6 on Monday. "This year, we've beaten them more times than they've beaten us so, it's a little scary thinking of that because you think, 'How many more times can we beat such a strong team?' But I think if we play like this, we'll definitely give them a good game."
Scott was actually surprised to be awarded third place based on both a pre-tourney draw to the button and the accumulative draws to the button during the week. But she was pleased with her team's performance after a poor showing at the Canadian Curling Trials.
"There's been a lot of chatter about me, post-baby, if I have the same potential as I had in '06 and '07 and definitely not doing as well as we had hoped at the trials," said the transplanted Manitoban who won the Hearts crown both those years. "There were many naysayers after that event as well. So, we're out here on a mission and hope to prove to ourselves and maybe prove to a few others along the way what we're still capable of doing."
The winner of Saturday's three-four playoff will play the loser of Friday night's one-two playoff between Team Canada's Jennifer Jones and P.E.I.'s Kathy O'Rourke in tonight's semifinal (6 p.m.).
Thurston, meanwhile, proved to be competitive, despite skipping a team of rookies here.
"I'm disappointed," she said. "Obviously, we would like to have ended it off not only with a win but just to have played better. That wasn't really indicative of how we played all week so, it's disappointing to go out there and be flat like that. But we had a great week, we played really well and for a first-year team and I hadn't curled for two years. I'm pretty happy with the week."
Manitoba third Kristen Phillips was overcome with emotion.
"Um, you play your heart out out here and we're such a good team and it just didn't work so, it's sad," she said, crying uncontrollably.
"I'm proud of myself for coming out here, my first nationals, and I think I played pretty consistent all week, and I'm proud of our team," said Manitoba second Leslie Wilson.
"I think we surprised some people," suggested lead Raunora Westcott. "Hopefully, we did. We wanted to make playoffs, we did so, we're happy … Now, it's time to go drink."