February 19, 2013 1:30 pm

Nancy Delahunt helping her longtime Nova Scotia teammates at Scotties


KINGSTON, Ont. – You can’t blame Nova Scotia alternate Nancy Delahunt for wanting to get as close to the action as possible.

The Scotties ice is familiar territory for the two-time world champion, who made her first appearance here over two decades ago and has won five national women’s curling titles since.

“It really feels like one of my homes,” Delahunt said. “We’ve been here a lot.”

Delahunt is serving as the fifth with her longtime teammates and friends. She teamed with Mary-Anne Arsenault, Colleen Jones and Kim Kelly to win five Scotties titles over six years from 1999 through 2004.

The core group split in 2006 but got back together last season, adding newcomer Jen Baxter at lead.

Now instead of holding the broom, Delahunt takes in the action from the coaching bench. Sporting a blue and white Nova Scotia warmup jacket, she’ll often slowly lean forward on her chair when her teammates throw stones.

She can’t get enough of the action, especially given the connection she has to her teammates.

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“I didn’t think I’d be back,” Delahunt said. “I was here in ’08 and sort of said my goodbyes then and thought that was it. But it was fun when this team got put together and I said I would do anything I could to help them out.

“It’s kind of nice to have a bit of the old mix and a bit of some newness.”

Nova Scotia did not fare well with a tough early round-robin schedule. The veteran side opened with a loss to Quebec before falling to powerhouse rinks Manitoba, B.C., and Team Canada.

Arsenault bounced back by skipping her side to a 10-7 win over Kerry Galusha of the Northwest Territories-Yukon on Tuesday.

“It’s nice to get the first win – and that even was hard,” said vice-skip Colleen Jones. “Like all of the sudden you’re going, ‘We could still give this away.’ It’s amazing. You forget how much hard work it is to plow through the tough times of a game and try to eke out a win.”

Nova Scotia improved to 2-4 in the evening draw with a 7-5 victory over Saskatchewan’s Jill Shumay.

The three unbeaten rinks all posted victories Tuesday night to remain tied in first place at 6-0. Team Canada’s Heather Nedohin beat B.C.’s Kelly Scott 7-5, Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones topped Kristie Moore’s Alberta rink 9-6 and Ontario’s Rachel Homan defeated Quebec’s Allison Ross 8-4.

Delahunt, who turned 54 last month, needs to be ready in case a teammate is ill or suffers an injury. She also sits beside coach Peter Corkum to give the team another set of experienced eyes on the sheet.

“I have been a fairly active fifth with them all year, which is cool,” Delahunt said. “I’m completely comfortable to sit back and give support and help Jen along the way with her first Scotties … and I love supporting this team. It’s fun.”

Delahunt was a fifth when she made her Scotties debut in 1991 when Jones was skip. She’s quite comfortable to weigh in with advice and help her teammates out as they need it.

“I am not itching to get out (on the ice),” she said. “Would I go out and would I take it? Sure, but I’m not looking to elbow anyone out of the way.”

Delahunt was still optimistic despite Nova Scotia’s record. Her rink has enjoyed success after slow starts in the past.

“It’s a long week and we know that,” she said. “We have competed in this week a lot of different ways. We’ve gone 8-0 to start and won it. We’ve gone 1-4 before and won it. We’ve gone 6-5 and ended up in crazy tiebreaker situations. We ended up not making the playoffs that year, but there is more than one way to skin this cat.

“I really know the strength of this team and what it can do.”

After nine draws, Shumay was in fourth place at 4-2 while Scott was tied with Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt at 3-3. Ross fell into a tie with Arsenault and New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford at 2-4.

Stacie Devereaux of Newfoundland and Labrador was even with Galusha at 1-5. Moore, who was replaced by alternate Renee Sonnenberg for the evening draw, remained winless at 0-6.

Round-robin play continues through Friday. Playoff games are scheduled for this weekend.

Notes: Announced attendance for Draw 8 was 1,683. It was slightly higher for Draw 9 at 1,841. The arena capacity is 5,700. … Canadian skip Jim Armstrong defeated American Patrick McDonald 7-1 on Tuesday at the world wheelchair curling championship in Sochi, Russia. Canada is 6-0 and will continue round-robin play Wednesday with games against Sweden and Finland.

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