February 25, 2012
Alberta faces Quebec hurdle at Scotties
By Con Griwkowsky, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - There's one big obstacle in Heather Nedohin's aspirations for a Scotties title.
That would be Quebec, the only playoff team Nedohin has not beaten this week.
While Nedohin's crew has beaten B.C's Kelly Scott and Manitoba's Jennifer Jones in the round-robin, they lost a narrow decision to Quebec's Marie-France Larouche Wednesday afternoon.
They've got a chance to set that right in Saturday morning's 3-4 game.
It's the first time an Alberta team has made the Scotties playoff round since Shannon Kleibrink did it in 2008 and Nedohin intends to make the most of her chance.
"Regardless of whether we have hammer, rock colour or whatever, it's not necessarily an advantage," said Nedohin, who will have to overcome last-rock advantage all the way up the ladder. "Regardless of who that team is and when we play them, I think Team Alberta will be showing up every time.
"We've beaten two out of three of them. The way our game has been all year has been 10th-end last rock or an extra end. I foresee three more of those types of game."
Now that she's wearing Team Alberta colours in the playoffs, she intends to do Alberta proud.
"I've sat in these seats many times and watched Team Alberta," said Nedohin. "I've played for many years to get here and I'm going to cherish and embrace every moment."
It has been 12 long years since her only other appearance as skip and 13 years as a member of Team Canada.
"Absolutely," said Nedohin. "We've put ourselves in a great position. Now it's a matter of coming out for 11 o'clock on Saturday.
"To me, this is not necessarily a hard road. We have three games in two days. That's pretty nice with a day off."
Nedohin has been generous in lavishing praise on her supporting cast and her teammates seem willing to return the favour.
"We both kind of understand where we're coming from," said third Beth Iskiw, who's formed a close bond with Nedohin during their five years together.
"I just have full confidence in every shot she's going to play. We were watching other teams on TV and I'd say ÔOh, we'd be playing this and you could make it easy.'
"She's had really good weight control of soft-weight shots and throwing really beautifully. When she's coming up the stick, I can work around the line call because she's just so pure with it. She's thrown really well. She's come up with some really big shots.
"The shot (for the win) against B.C., we didn't give her much to go on and she pretty much won the game for us. She's come clutch when we've needed her to."
Second Jessica Mair joined the team in 2010 two years out of junior and would like nothing better than to help her skipper nail down her dream of skipping a Scotties champion.
"We set it up for her, but sometimes we screw up and she has to bail us out," said Mair. "I have full confidence in her shot-making ability. She's been able to keep her calm and cool. She looks great out there.
"Her passion brings out passion in us and we build on her intensity and her excitement. It makes it a lot more fun because we know when she misses a shot she's (annoyed) and she'll come out firing in the next one."
EXTRA ENDS: Amazing what a little rest and a bit of advice from Russ Howard will do.
The now-TSN commentator had been infamous for losing his voice during competitions, gave Nedohin his salt-water gargle formula and it seems to have done the trick.