One year ago, Kerry Galusha and her team came within one game of advancing to the championship round of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sydney, N.S.
This year, it was even closer than that and even though it was a tough way to go out, Galusha is still happy with the week that was in Calgary.
Galusha and her rink of Shona Barbour, Margot Flemming and Jo-Ann Rizzo were on course for the championship round, the first time a rink from the North would have advanced past the opening stage of the Canadian women’s curling championship. All they had to do was defeat the wild card skipped by Beth Peterson of Manitoba.
It didn’t happen as Peterson would steal the win, 9-8, putting her into the championship round and relegating Galusha and company to another year of heartache.
“That’s how it goes,” said Galusha from her Airbnb in Yellowknife, where she’s been isolating after returning from Calgary last Friday. “Teams were in control all week and they ended up losing. That was the theme. Maybe if we all made one more shot, it would have been different but I’m still happy with how we all played.”
Galusha opened the contest versus Peterson with the hammer and blanked the first end before scoring two in the second, which was answered by Peterson in the third. Peterson stole a single in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead but Galusha re-took the lead by scoring two in the fifth with the hammer. Peterson would get that deuce back in the sixth to nose her way in front, 5-4, before Galusha came up with the big moment of the game in the seventh by counting three to take a 7-5 lead.
Galusha would extend that lead to 8-5 with a steal in the eighth before Peterson got two of those points back in a sloppy ninth end; both teams missed key shots to give each other chances to score. Peterson would force the extra end by stealing one in the 10th and would go on to steal another single in the 11th to win and advance to the championship round.
The loss dropped Galusha’s rink to four wins and four losses, one loss too many for the championship round.
Galusha’s final stone in the extra end was a draw to the button, a shot which TSN’s Russ Howard referred to as “the biggest shot of (Galusha’s) career” during the live broadcast.
Was it? Galusha didn’t think so.
“I wasn’t thinking of that at all,” she said. “If anything, I would have taken a bit more ice because it over-curled. The girls swept the rock well and I was confident with it all the way. If I’m in that situation again, I’ll know what to do.”
The NWT is always one of the sentimental favourites each year with Galusha and company receiving messages of support from around the country.
This year, though, Galusha said it felt different.
“We got a lot more messages than we ever did before,” she said. “We were on TSN three times as the feature game – when has that ever happened before? It was just so upbeat and people were noticing us more. We always get noticed but we got a lot more attention. People just love the underdogs and we’ve always been the underdogs. We had so much support this year and we’re just so thankful for everyone sending messages to us.”
This current rink will take at least one more shot at the Scotties in 2022 but Barbour won’t be a part of the team; Galusha said she was a late call-up after Sarah Koltun wasn’t able to make it due to a combination of school and the travel restrictions around the pandemic.
“I’m hoping Sarah will be back next year and that we’ll have no pandemic to worry about,” she said.