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Familiar Brier curling names arrive at women’s Tournament of Hearts

Northern Ontario’s Sarah Potts makes a shot during the ninth draw against Newfoundland and Labrador at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Feb. 23.


Prominent bloodlines run through this year's Canadian women's curling championship.

Alberta's Chelsea Carey is the daughter of Dan Carey, who won the 1992 men's championship playing third for Vic Peters. Her uncle Bill was Barry Fry's third when they won the Brier in 1979.

There is a Howard in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the first time. Saskatchewan third Ashley Howard is the daughter of Canadian, world and Olympic champion Russ Howard.

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Her brother Steve, cousin Scott and uncle Glenn have all played in the men's championship. Glenn and Scott are representing Ontario at the Tim Hortons Brier in Ottawa again next month.

"It took me a long time to realize I wasn't eligible to play in the Brier and I had to find my own dream," Ashley said.

And while she bears her married name on her Northern Ontario jacket, lead Sarah Potts is the daughter of Rick Lang, winner of three Canadian championships playing third for Al Hackner and Bill Tetley.

The fathers are all in Grande Prairie, Alta., with their daughters – Dan and Rick as spectators and Russ as a television commentator. Rick is one of Curling Canada's national team coaches and oversaw the Brad Jacobs team when they won Olympic gold in 2014.

But his wife, Lorraine, is coaching Northern Ontario's women at the Tournament of Hearts. So Rick is in the unfamiliar role as fan, working the region's traditional moose-call noisemaker and wearing a furry hat at Revolution Place.

"He's having a ball, but he's nervous, very nervous," Potts said Tuesday. "I can totally tell when I look up at him."

Carey and her Alberta rink extended their unbeaten run to 6-0 with a 6-4 win over New Brunswick. Northern Ontario was right behind at 5-1 with a 7-4 victory over Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Saskatchewan's Jolene Campbell edged British Columbia 8-7 to sit tied at 4-2 with Quebec's Marie-France Larouche, who was a 5-4 winner over Nova Scotia's Jill Brothers.

Nova Scotia fell to 3-3 and defending champion Jennifer Jones was 3-2 with games to play at night.

Manitoba's Kerri Einarson, Ontario's Jenn Hanna and Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Birt were tied at 2-3. New Brunswick's Sylvie Robichaud, Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador and B.C. were all 1-5.

The top four teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday advance to the Page playoff.

Carey recalls her mother, Mary, excitedly dragging her seven-year-old self over Regina Agridome seats to ice level when Vic Peters beat Russ Howard in the 1992 Brier final. Now 31, Carey spent her childhood in Winnipeg hanging around Dan's curling club.

"I followed him around to every game and he told me I was crazy because I wouldn't not go," Carey said. "It's like 8:30 in the morning and [his game] was out of town and I'd be up at six and want to go with him.

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"His Brier final tape, I knew word for word, the commentary on it. I was obsessed from the time I was a kid.

"Just being around it that much certainly gave me something to work towards and once he finished playing, he coached me. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him."

Ashley Howard, 26, says she doesn't feel extra pressure to live up to her father's name at the women's championship.

"I don't think there's any extra pressure or legacy to live up to because he's never won a game in the Scotties," Howard said. "I'm ahead."

While Russ has called television games involving his brother, son and nephew, he says it is a different feeling analyzing his daughter's games.

"Emotional," Russ said. "It's just so neat to see her make it. To live in Saskatchewan and make it to the Tournament of Hearts is not simple. Yeah, that's our first female. Pretty cool."

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