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Photo by Jon Molson

CALLING IT IN - Leslie Grant calls a shot, while opponent Jaime Hewitt looks on during an opening match in the Yukon/N.W.T. Scotties Tournament of Hearts Wome's Championships.

Curlers optimistic heading into weekend playdowns

Team Hewitt and Team Galusha proved why they're ranked as the number one women's team in their respected territories.

By Jon Molson on January 30, 2009

Team Hewitt and Team Galusha proved why they're ranked as the number one women's team in their respected territories.

Both squads kicked off the Yukon/N.W.T. Scotties Tournament of Hearts Championships with two convincing wins on Thursday at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

Thursday's only draw featured the two Yukon squads going head-to-head, while N.W.T. rinks played just to the left of them.

Taking advantage of the hammer in the eighth end, Whitehorse's Team Hewitt scored an incredible five points to beat Leslie Grant's squad 10-4.

On the N.W.T. side, Yellowknife's Kerry Galusha's squad won in just six ends over the Inuvik's Team Allen.

Team Galusha didn't hold back in the game, scoring points in every end, with the exception of the sixth. The final score was 15-1.

The end breakdown included Galusha scoring one point in the first, four points in the second, two in the third, five in the fourth and three in the fifth.

"We played really well," said Galusha. "The other team struggled with the ice and we caught on to the ice a lot quicker. We wanted to come out strong and firing and we did and we are happy."

Curling action resumed today with Draw Two occurring at 9:30 a.m. and Draw Three at 2:30 p.m.

Draw Four and Five will both be played on Saturday, with the first occurring at 1 p.m., while Draw Five is scheduled for 6 p.m.

The Yukon/N.W.T. Scotties Tournament of Hearts Championships will conclude on Sunday at 9 a.m. with the sixth and final draw.

All teams play a double round robin format, which automatically qualifies the team that finishes with the best record for the 2009 Scotties Tournament of Hearts. This year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be played in Victoria.

For the past four years, Team Galusha has won the playdowns to represent N.W.T./Yukon at the Scotties. In 2009, the team went 1-10 finishing ahead of New Brunswick.

Other squads at the Scotties include the nine remaining provinces and Team Canada.

Galusha said its always important to win the first game at the Yukon/N.W.T. playdowns.

"It sets the tone for the rest of the week and it's good to get a win under your belt the first day," she said. "Every game is nerve racking because you want to win them all, but we just focus on one game at a time and go hard."

She expects it to be a tough competition against the two Yukon squads.

"This is their home ice, so they are going to know the ice really well," she said. "I am familiar with all of them and they are both tough teams. It's going to be a dogfight."

Galusha said the only major difference between playing in Yellowknife and in Whitehorse is the Yukon ice is a lot faster.

"It doesn't take a long time, but it is an adjustment," she said. "You don't push out of the hack as fast, but we had practice time last night and this morning to work on it, so we have all pretty much adjusted. We just want to come out and play consistently for the rest of the weekend, that's all we can ask for."

Last rock was the difference-maker in Hewitt and Grant's matchup. Both teams traded points, until Team Hewitt was able to break it open in the fourth end, scoring three points after removing one of Grant's stones. Team Hewitt took a 5-2 lead into the five-minute game break.

Grant managed to bounce back in the sixth and seventh ends, scoring a point in each. However, Team Hewitt saved its best end for last, removing the closest Grant stone with the hammer to score five.

Jaime Hewitt said scoring three points in the fifth end was the turning point.

"That's always been our goal, every end is to get more than one," she said. "It just didn't work out that way, so that's when we just felt that we really had a grasp on the game and felt more in control. We always felt like we were in control I think, we just needed to have a breakout end."

She said it was a good start to the playdowns.

"Wins are always good," Hewitt said. "We want to go 6-0."

The three other members on Team Hewitt are Rhonda Horte, Helen Strong and Sandra Mikkelsen.

Grant said despite losing the game there were lots of positives that she took out of it.

"The positive thing is we hold together pretty good and we do our best to get back into the game," she said. "That was our first game, so we have five more. We are looking forward to every game. We'll do our best."

Other members on Team Grant include Corinne Delaire, Tamar Vandenberge and Doris Bourvier.

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