Krista McCarville vows her Northern Ontario team is done with larceny, although it has been profitable for them.
Her Thunder Bay foursome led last year's Canadian women's curling championship in stolen points with 31, but it was the playoff round where they took thieving to spectacular heights.
Trailing in both games, McCarville stole three points over the ninth and 10th ends of a playoff win over Manitoba and did the same in a semifinal victory over defending champion Jennifer Jones.
McCarville, third Kendra Lilly, second Ashley Sippala and lead Sarah Potts out of the Fort William Curling Club fell 8-7 to Chelsea Carey in the final in Grande Prairie, Alta.
McCarville prefers they not white knuckle their way to wins in St. Catharines, Ont., this year.
"Just before we came here we talked about that and why that happened," McCarville said.
"We tried to figure out why did we play that much better after the fifth end. I think when our backs are against the wall, that's just what we do. We pick up our game and play a little bit more sharp.
"We're coming here this year to not start that way. We want to be sharp from the beginning."
Englot, Homan remain perfect
Northern Ontario was that early in Monday's night's game against Manitoba, McCarville was up 6-2 at the fifth-end break, but squandered that lead falling 8-7 to Michelle Englot.
Manitoba and Ontario's Rachel Homan kept up their torrid pace at 5-0 to top the field. Homan cruised to a 9-3 win over Nova Scotia's Mary Mattatall.
"I'd give us 100 out of 100," Homan said. "Not that we're playing a hundred per cent, but we're doing everything we want to be doing.
"We're going through the right steps and learning as we go along from our mistakes."
Defending champion Chelsea Carey downed B.C.'s Marla Mallett 6-2 to join Kerry Galusha of Northwest Territories at 3-1.
Eve Belisle of Quebec edged Saskatchewan's Penny Barker 8-5 to get to 3-2.
McCarville dropped into a tie at 2-2 alongside Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink and Stacie Curtis of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mattatall fell to 2-3. Mallett, Barker and Robyn MacPhee of Prince Edward Island were winless.
It was Manitoba taking a page from Northern Ontario's book Monday stealing five points in the back half of their game against Curtis before charging back for the win against McCarville.
"We know Krista's going to be there at the end so beating her in the round robin is really key," Englot said. "The teams that are top of the heap, you want to for sure win those games."
The top four teams at the conclusion of the round robin Friday morning advance to the Page playoff. Ties for fourth are solved by tiebreaker games.
McCarville's team doesn't travel as much as some teams chasing points and money on the World Curling Tour.
She and her teammates strive to strike a more equal balance between their sport and their jobs and families.
Focus is on Olympics
But they do want a shot at representing Canada at next year's Winter Olympics. Seven of nine women's berths in December's trials in Ottawa are still on the table.
The winner in St. Catharines gets one of those spots.
"We definitely play a lot less than most teams," Potts said. "Everyone is really focused on the Olympics. Our team, the Scotties is it for us. Of course, we would love to get a trials spot and our way to get a trials spot is to win the Scotties.
"We're not so much points hungry as other teams. We're more focused on what's the best events for us to go in. We practice really hard. We're a little bit different than other teams, but it works for us. People on our team are full-time employees and they have children. We have lives outside (of curling) and it works for us."
Lilly was new to the team last year. Coming so close to the crown in Grande Prairie made McCarville and company hungry to get back to the final in St. Catharines and claim it this time.
"I think coming with this team and doing so well last year, gaining experience with this team to get there, I think we do have the confidence that we know we can win this," McCarville said.
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