Calgary's Tran soaking up call to Scotties from Cathy O

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Cathy Overton-Clapham seems to like what Brittany Tran brings to the pebbled ice.

She really does.

How else do you explain the curling legend’s ringing endorsement of the Calgarian for teams in need of a player?

“I guess for me she’s been a great advocate,” said Tran, a 27-year-old native of Red Deer. “It’s amazing to have somebody that good and that knowledgeable about the sport noticing you. That’s really nice.”

Certainly is, especially if it leads to big opportunities, which has been the case with their connection.

With ‘Cathy O’ acting somewhat as an agent, Tran has made her way to the 2021 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in her own backyard.

The Glencoe Club curler was brought in on short notice — at the recommendation of Overton-Clapham — to play lead for Wild Card 3, skipped by Manitoba’s Beth Peterson, this week at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

“My phone rang, and I was like, ‘Oh, Cathy O is calling me!'” said Tran, who’s been playing second with Kayla Skrlik’s rink in Calgary. “She just thought I’m a pretty good thrower and, personality-wise, I would be a really good fit in with the team. She thought of the added bonus of me already being in Calgary, so I don’t have the travel restrictions, and that I was coming into the bubble already for (Canadian) mixed doubles (next month with Aaron Sluchinski), so there would be a good shot that I would be able to make it work.

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“And I’ve been to the Scotties previously, so I have a little bit of experience I could bring to the team.”

Overton-Clapham had a hand in that venture, as well.

With Kerry Galusha looking for a second, the world champ and five-time Scotties queen hooked the Yellowknife skip up with then-free-agent Tran, and the end result was a strong year and a trip to the 2019 Canadian championships as the Northwest Territories representative.

Two years later, Tran — also a 2012 Canadian junior champ from her days playing third for Red Deer’s Jocelyn Peterman — is unexpectedly back at the Scotties.

“We had a meeting,” said skip Peterson, from Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club. “And Brittany was at the top of the list.”

Of course, Tran jumped at the chance to slide in after Peterson’s regular lead, Melissa Gordon, couldn’t make it to Calgary due to work commitments and Manitoba’s quarantine restrictions.

So it was ‘hello and away we go’ when joining her new teammates — Peterson, third Jenna Loder, second Katherine Doerkson and coach Overton-Clapham — for the first time in person just hours before the Scotties got underway.

“Personally I want to play really well, and I want to play really well for the girls, and I want us to do well,” Tran said. “It’s been good, though. I feel like it’s been a pretty seamless transition — the best it could be considering the situation and never having played or practised with the girls prior to this. There’s definitely still a lot of little kinks we have to work out and little tweaks in communication and getting everything down pat.

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“Every rock is a learning experience.”

But they seem to be catching on fast.

After Wednesday morning’s 9-5 win over Northern Ontario (2-4) gave them their third straight win, Peterson & Co. pushed their record to 4-3 at these Scotties to put them solid in pursuit of a spot in the championship pool.

And a berth in the playoffs would make the surprise adventure even more amazing.

“I wasn’t really expecting to be here,” added Tran, who’s happy to be playing in her home city despite there being no fans in the stands. “I was expecting to be just watching from home on TV. So I was excited to come and have the opportunity to play with these girls — they’re super talented and we’ve been having a lot of fun and just soaking up everything that we can.

“You never know when you’re going to get the chance to come back.”

Perhaps it’ll be when Cathy O comes calling for her again.

ALBERTA CAN’T BEAT CANADA

Alberta (4-3) had its only game Wednesday go against Canada (7-0) in the late draw.

Playing stronger as the game went on, Alberta battled the defending champs valiantly through six ends.

But trailing 4-3 in the seventh, Laura Walker and Alberta got aggressive on a difficult raise in hopes of counting at least one and maybe two. Following what was Walker’s first rock of the end coming up a hair shy of freezing to the Canada stone biting the four-foot ring for shot-stone, the hammer attempt backfired on them and gave a steal of two to the Manitoba rink skipped by Kerri Einarson.

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It put Alberta down three, and after two more cashed in by Canada in the eighth — helped by a pick of Alberta third Kate Cameron’s stone — the game ended abruptly 8-3 in favour of the reigning champions.

Alberta wraps up Pool A play Thursday against winless Yukon (0-7) in the afternoon (1:30 p.m., TSN), hoping to earn a playoff spot or at least a tiebreaker opportunity.

EXTRA ENDS

Both Canada and Ontario (6-1), the two top teams in Pool A, clinched berths in the championship pool ahead of the evening games, which included Ontario topping Wild Card 2 (2-5) 8-6, NWT (4-3) defeating Yukon 10-2 and Nova Scotia (2-5) beating Northern Ontario (2-5) 8-3 … Wednesday morning’s other games saw: Ontario lose to NWT 7-5; Canada defeat Yukon 11-7; and Wild Card 2 edge Nova Scotia 6-5 … The afternoon draw saw: Quebec (5-2) score a 9-4 win over Newfoundland & Labrador (2-4); Saskatchewan (4-2) edge Wild Card 1 (4-3) 8-7; New Brunswick (3-3) beat B.C. (3-3) 9-5; and Manitoba (4-2) bounce Prince Edward Island (3-3) 9-5 … The final day of the round robin goes Thursday with draws at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., all on TSN.

tsaelhof@postmedia.com

http://www.twitter.com/ToddSaelhofPM

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