P.G. sisters off to national Scotties

Sisters Brette Richards and Blaine de Jager, who were raised in Prince George, will play as part of Team B.C. at the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts national women's curling championship.

Richards and de Jager filled second and lead spots respectively for skip Marla Mallett, whose foursome (including third Shannon Aleksic) won the provincial title last Sunday in Duncan. In the final, Mallett and company beat Diane Gushulak 6-3.

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At provincials, the Mallett rink finished first in round-robin play with a 6-1 record. Then, Mallett and her crew beat Lindsay Hudyma's team 6-1 in the first versus second playoff game and moved directly to the final.

In the championship game, Gushulak was up 2-1 after five ends but Mallett scored two points in the sixth to take the lead. Gushulak picked up a single point in the seventh end and the teams were tied 3-3. After Mallett blanked the eighth end, she struck for a key two points in the ninth and stole one more in the 10th to cement the victory.

Richards now lives in Kelowna, while de Jager still resides in Prince George. Mallett is from Langley's Walnut Grove area and Aleksic is an Abbotsford resident.

Mallett hadn't won the B.C. Scotties since 2009. At that time, Gushulak was her second.

This year's national Scotties is Feb. 18-26 in St. Catharines, Ont.

Richards and de Jager will both be making their second appearances at nationals. Richards was there in 2009 with Team Manitoba and de Jager played on the big stage in 2014 with Team Alberta.

The B.C. championship and nationals berth is Mallett's fourth. Along with her 2009 provincial title, she also won in 1995 and 1997.

Two other teams at this year's provincials had players with ties to Prince George. Sarah Wark of Chilliwack had Kristen Pilote (nee Fewster) at third, and Victoria's Dailene Pewarchuk had Patti Knezevic throwing third stones for her. Pilote now makes her home in Squamish while Knezevic still lives here.

In the round-robin standings, Wark placed third at 4-3 and Pewarchuk was sixth with a 2-5 record. Wark made the playoff round but was knocked out in the third versus fourth game by Gushulak, who also finished at 4-3. Gushulak prevailed 8-7 in the head-to-head playoff and then defeated Hudyma 6-4 to get to the final.

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