The hometown skip is the number one seed for the 2019 Provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts which begins Wednesday, January 23rd at the Gimli Recreation Centre.

Kerri Einarson along with third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur have won four events on the World Curling Tour this season and made the final in a fifth.

The Gimli Curling Club foursome captured the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, the Morris SunSpiel, the Mother Club Fall Classic at the Granite Curling Club in Winnipeg and the Curlers Corner Autumn Gold Classic in Calgary.

Einarson won the 2016 Provincial Scotties, Sweeting skipped Alberta teams at three National Scotties while Birchard and Meilleur, who had outstanding junior careers, both threw last rocks until this fall.

"We all went in super committed to our new positions and put in a lot of work over the summer to really gel as a new team and build those relationships and that trust," said Birchard at CurlManitoba's press conference on Wednesday to announce the top five seeds. "That was a really big key to our success early on in the season and it's just a matter of continuing that throughout and keeping the lines of communication really open - that's been a big part of our success."

Birchard says there's no added pressure on the team being the number one seed.

"We would have had a target on our backs regardless. We just have to play well, play our game and make our shots."

Einarson's old team of third Selena Njegovan, second Liz Fyfe and lead Kristin MacCuish went out and added new skip Tracy Fleury this season.

The East St. Paul team is the second seed.

"I thought this is what it would be," said Njegovan. "Kerri seems to have had a really good year and I'm not surprised at all."

Darcy Robertson of Assiniboine Memorial, who lost the 2018 Provincial final to Jennifer Jones in Killarney, is the third seed.

The fourth seed is Allison Flaxey, Kate Cameron, Taylor McDonald and Raunora Westcott of the Granite who won the DEKALB Super Spiel in Morris this past November.

Westcott and Cameron won the 2017 Provincial Scotties at the Eric Coy Arena in Winnipeg with Michelle Englot and Leslie Wilson-Westcott.

Westcott explained what the key is if she's to capture a fourth provincial title.

"Getting a grasp of the ice early and then it's just going to come down to communication and supporting one another really."

Beth Peterson, Jenna Loder, Katherine Doerksen and Melissa Gordon of Assiniboine Memorial are the fifth seed.

"It's really exciting," said Doerksen who grew up in Morden and played in two previous Scotties with Hall of Famer Cathy Overton-Clapham. "We've been pretty anxious for about a month now. Our last event was the beginning of December so we've had some time off. We took some time off for Christmas and now we've been practicing pretty hard the last few weeks leading up to the Provincials."

Mackenzie Zacharias of the Altona Curling Club, who qualified for the Provincial Scotties, will not compete in Gimli as she'll be representing Manitoba at the Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Prince Albert which begins Saturday, January 19th.


2019 Provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Gimli

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Minnesota 4 N.Y. Rangers 1
Montreal 5 Philadelphia 1
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Nashville 2 Los Angeles 1
Dallas 5 St. Louis 2
Edmonton 4 N.Y. Islanders 3 (OT)
Arizona 3 Vancouver 2 (OT)

Philadelphia 106 Miami 102
Cleveland 111 Phoenix 98
Portland 113 Brooklyn 99
Milwaukee 98 Boston 97
Golden State 125 Sacramento 123
L.A. Lakers 111 Houston 106

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