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Curling Canada adds wild-card teams to field for Scotties, Brier in Calgary bubble

Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue kisses the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the 2020 Brier curling final in Kingston, Ont.(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

OTTAWA — Curling Canada is expanding the field for the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier.

The usual 16-team field will have two extra wild-card teams when play begins next month in the so-called bubble at Calgary’s Markin MacPhail Centre.

The play-in game was cancelled so there will be three wild-card teams in all, along with the defending champions and 14 provincial representatives for each competition.

READ MORE: Curling Canada finalizes mixed doubles dates in Calgary bubble

The federation says that several high-performance teams were denied the opportunity to qualify this season since several associations cancelled their playdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final rankings from last season will be used to determine the two teams that would have played in the wild-card game. Instead, they will get automatic entry in the main draw.

A third wild-card entry — bringing the field to 18 — will be granted entry on criteria “to be determined,” which would allow for a balanced draw featuring two pools of nine teams.