Shaela Hayward along with third Keira Krahn, second India Young and lead Rylie Cox played their fifth and final game of the 2024 Provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts on Friday morning in Morden.
Now the Carman Curling Club foursome can soak in a week full of cherished memories.
Those memories were plentiful.
The wow factor after seeing the magnificent curling facility at the Access Event Centre for the first time Tuesday afternoon before practice; attending the Scotties banquet Tuesday night; being piped out on to the ice and introduced during the opening ceremony Wednesday night; curling on the best ice surface in the world; playing a Manitoba curling legend in their first game and recording more wins than losses in their first-ever Provincial Scotties.
Our province’s reigning U18 curling champions played their round robin opener Wednesday morning and lost 12-2 in six ends to Kaitlyn Lawes, Selena Njegovan, Jocelyn Peterman and Kristin MacCuish of Fort Rouge.
Hayward, Krahn, Young and Cox dusted themselves off from that loss to the top seed, got back in the hack and defeated Beth Peterson, Kelsey Rocque, Katherine Doerksen and Melissa Kurz of the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club 13-1 in five ends.
The same script followed on Thursday as Team Hayward lost their morning game 9-5 to Kristi Watling of East St. Paul and then counted four points coming home and beat Emma Jensen of the Heather 10-8 in the afternoon.
Shaela Hayward, Keira Krahn, India Young and Rylie Cox won their final round robin game 10-6 over Emily Cherwinski of Assiniboine Memorial on Friday morning.
Kaitlyn Lawes finished first in the Black Group with a 5-0 record while Hayward, Peterson and Watling were tied for second place at 3-2.
When the draw to the button numbers were crunched, Peterson and Watling joined Team Lawes in the Championship Pool as their Skilled Based Rankings for the week were better than Team Hayward.
Shaela Hayward, Keira Krahn, India Young, Rylie Cox and fifth Diane Hayward waved to their supporters and said good-bye to the 2024 Provincial Scotties.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Cox. “It was really exciting to be here with my team and playing against all these amazing other teams. I just had a lot of fun. I wanted to do my best and impressive everyone and be good for my team.”
The highlight for Young was playing the number one seed on the opening draw.
“Kaitlyn and her team kind of talked to us a few times and we were pretty stoked about it to be honest. To Kaitlyn and her team – if ever we were staring at you, it’s just because we’re in awe.”
Young added the ice surface at the Access Event Centre was amazing.
“It was a big learning curve for us. Our first game didn’t maybe go like we wanted it to but the next one we came back firing and the rest of the week we were firing away.”
“I definitely think we’re ready for the big stage at Nationals,” remarked Krahn. “We played good. We didn’t want to look like the weak link out there. We didn’t want to look like we don’t belong. I think we did a good job proving that we were ready for this and ready for the next step.”
Shaela Hayward was so impressed with her teammates in Morden.
“My team played great all week. Up and down the line we made shots all week. We were really solid and I’m really proud of them.”
Hayward was also thankful for the large and loud cheering section of supporters from their hometown that took in all five of their games.
“They were great all week. We had so many people here, even early in the morning they were all here. It’s great to be sort of like the hometown team because we’re so close to Morden and it’s really special to have everyone here and cheer us on.”
Hayward, Krahn, Young and Cox will leave next weekend for Ottawa and the 2024 Canadian U18 Curling Championships.
Shaela Hayward said she’ll take this entire Scotties experience with her to our nation's capital.
“The practice we got on the arena ice and playing these high caliber teams has definitely prepared us for Nationals. Being in this environment with the crowd, it was great practice and we’re ready for Nationals now.”
Team Hayward made a lineup change Friday morning which ignited a stirring ovation from the team’s cheering section.
With a 9-6 lead coming home, fifth Diane Hayward, who relinquished her coaching duties to Ron Westcott during Scotties week, replaced Rylie Cox and threw lead stones to her daughter in the 10th end.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to go in because the game mattered and we were watching the other sheets, but Ron was convinced I was going in,” said Hayward. “It was just such a special moment to be able to go in and curl with the girls and to throw a rock at the Scotties.”
“I honestly can’t put it into words how proud I am of these girls,” added Hayward. “I’ve been with them a long time and just to see them progress and to be able to come here and compete at this high of a level is just incredible to watch. They’re a very special group and I’m just so proud of them.”