Kerry Galusha is going back to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
It’s an opening line that has been written time and again when reporting on the NWT’s best women’s skip but it bears repeating.
For the 14th time, Galusha will hold the broom for the territory at the Canadian women’s curling championship as she and her team of Megan Koehler, Shona Barbour and Whitehorse’s Sarah Koltun swept the board and finished atop the standings in the double round-robin bonspiel, winning all six of their games to punch a ticket to Penticton, B.C., for the big show later this month.
Galusha said she knows her rink is always the favourite whenever they show up for territorials, but this year she actually had to play to win – she won last year’s territorials by acclamation as no one else entered.
“I’m super happy that three other teams from Inuvik entered,” she said. “We got six competitive games, something we didn’t have last year and that was good. It’s easy for the opposition to say that they couldn’t beat us but they entered and that’s good.”
Galusha and company were rarely troubled during any of their half-dozen contests but their closest game of the weekend came against Tyanna Bain of Inuvik, the junior girls team on its way to the New Holland Canadian Juniors this weekend. It was the opening draw for both teams and Galusha won 6-2.
“We got up two, then three, then four,” said Galusha. “We played a hitting game so we weren’t too worried. We turned the crank a bit in our second game against them to show them what certain situations are like but they played really well. They have some work to do but they won two games and they’ll do fine at nationals.”
With the title secured, Galusha and her team spent part of the final game mentoring Bain’s outfit.
“My girls were just trying to teach them a bit better sweeping technique to help them out,” said Galusha.
It was the first time Team Galusha had been together in about a month and while Galusha said everyone played well enough, there’s always a few kinks that need to be ironed out.
“We sat down afterward and talked about the technical goals we want to reach,” she said. “One of the things we did really well was communication and that’s something we’ve struggled with in past years. It’s all about fixing the technical side and that will come together.”
With the spot in Penticton confirmed, the team is now playing the waiting game to see who it will face. This year’s Scotties will be the first to feature pool play and Galusha will be in one of two to play the round-robin. Because some provincial playdowns haven’t been completed yet, Galusha’s opponents aren’t yet known.
“It’s all based on the Canadian Team Ranking System,” said Galusha. “Once everything is finalized, we’ll be ranked and the pools will be completed.”
No matter who Galusha plays, the goal remains the same: make the championship round. The top four from each pool will advance to that portion of the draw with the teams crossing over to play the other four teams from the opposite pool. From there, the top four teams after that will advance to the playoffs for the big prize.
“We’re going with the plan of playing at least 11 games (seven round-robin and four championship round),” said Galusha. “We have a solid team and we’re ready for it all.”
The Scotties gets underway on Jan. 27.