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Beaudry, Payne on to provincials

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They got the band back together and still can play a symphony that’s stone cold sweet.

Fort Frances skip Hailey Beaudry and her familiar cast members of Nicole Hartlin at third, Erin Tomalty at second, and co-leads Tory and Anika Beaudry looked like they hadn’t missed a beat—and rarely missed a shot—in capturing the Region 1 junior women’s crown here over the weekend.

Beaudry won’t be around for another NorWOSSA run with the Muskies this season after graduating last year and now is enrolled in the nursing program at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

But she extracted all the enjoyment she could out of her competitive homecoming with the team that reached the 2014 OFSAA championships as they went 6-0 in the double round-robin event to qualify for the provincial junior women’s championship Jan. 2-5 in Sioux Lookout.

“This is our fifth year curling together so we’re pretty much familiar with each other, which definitely helps,” said Beaudry, whose squad didn’t make it out of Region 1 last year.

Tomalty, who will skip the Muskie girls’ team this season, was tickled pink to have Beaudry back for another curling conquest.

“I really enjoy having Hailey here because I enjoy playing second more than skip,” she admitted.

“We play our positions on this junior team so well because we’re picked for each spot to match our strengths.

“I’ve missed Hailey,” Tomalty added. “I borrow from her her strategy skills because I’m not super experienced with strategizing.

“I watch Hailey and learn from her what she does, and it helps my game.”

Beaudry came into the weekend as the favourite in the four-team field, with three of them eligible to qualify for the provincials because of the way the berths were allocated this year.

They made an early statement they were the team to beat with a 9-3 win over Cassidy Romyn (Sioux Lookout) in their opening draw Friday night.

Beaudry, who didn’t surrender any more than two points in the 42 ends she played on the weekend, then dumped the two other local rinks—skipped by Maggie LeMesurier and Ashley Payne—by scores of 11-1 (six ends) and 11-4.

With a chance to secure the regional title after just four games, Beaudry’s rink didn’t disappoint—downing Romyn again 9-4 before blanking LeMesurier 9-0 in five ends.

Romyn, who was 3-2 after five draws, already had second place in the bag before Sunday morning’s final double round-robin draw, which was to pit Beaudry against Payne and Romyn versus LeMesurier.

With neither of the two 1-4 teams likely to upset their more experienced opponents, and with Romyn’s rink facing a long trip home, Payne and LeMesurier mutually decided to forfeit their last games and go right into the third-place tie-breaker to decide the final provincial berth.

LeMesurier and her short-handed crew of an under-the-weather Daffni Chabot and Mackenzie Taylor were unable to find a fourth player in time for the competition when lead Emma Bassett became unavailable.

But the trio still managed to split their round-robin games against Payne and her team of third Cloey Brigham (Atikokan), second Jillian Cousineau, and lead Andrea Schram.

LeMesurier (in Grade 10), with the Grade 7 and Grade 9 front end of Chabot and Taylor, respectively, prevailed 10-4 over Payne in the first meeting Friday night.

But Payne, the youngest skip in the field as an eighth-grader, and her crew of Brigham (Grade 10), Cousineau (Grade 8), and Schram (Grade 9) bounced back with an 11-5 triumph in Saturday’s late draw.

High-scoring ends was the theme early on in Sunday’s tie-breaker, with LeMesurier notching a deuce in the first and then stealing three more in the second.

But Payne made a crucial draw to the button to count four in the third to get right back into the game.

“It was pretty open and we were getting more comfortable with the ice at that point,” noted Payne.

“We knew if we just kept up with good draw weights, we could come back,” echoed Schram.

LeMesurier scored a single in the fourth after not being able to keep her shooter from spinning out of the rings on a take-out attempt on Payne’s stone at the top of the eight-foot.

Payne’s rink then went into lockdown mode after that—scoring one in the fifth and then stealing six more over the next four ends to go up 11-6.

LeMesurier’s last good chance to stay close came in the eighth end, when she called a time-out while facing a difficult take-out attempt with Payne lying two under decent cover.

But the game became a second priority in a heartbeat when LeMesurier’s coach, Charlotte Bazylewski, suffered a head injury after losing her footing on the way downstairs and taking a frightening fall while going to give advice during the time-out.

Bazylewski recovered shortly thereafter and still was able to talk to her team, which appeared shaken up by the incident.

LeMesurier tried to compose herself in the hack, but ended up throwing too much weight on the take-out try and wrecking on a high guard to put Payne up 10-6.

“I felt really bad because our coach was down,” admitted LeMesurier.

“When people close to me get hurt, I feel particularly bad for them,” she noted.

“It threw me off just a little, and I threw too hard and wide of the broom.”

Trailing by five entering the 10th, LeMesurier ran out of rocks midway through the frame, but the two sides agreed to play out the end for the sake of getting more experience.

LeMesurier showed she still had one good shot left in her—placing her last shot perfectly on the left edge of the button on a draw for four to make the final score 11-10.

“I think we got a lot better with our sweeping as the weekend went on and that made a difference in the tie-breaking game,” said Cousineau.

Brigham, who was added to the team this past week with regular second Katrina Slomke unavailable to play due to other commitments, said getting used to her new rink wasn’t so hard.

“Once we got to know each other, it was easier to deal with the pressure,” she remarked.

“I didn’t know if I was going to help them or make things worse.”

LeMesurier, meanwhile, wasn’t hanging her head after the loss.

“I think we did pretty good considering we were one short and had one person sick the entire weekend,” she reasoned.

“I definitely learned this weekend that we have to guard more, and guard a lot of rocks, if we’re going to succeed more in the future.”

As for Payne, she was adamant her team isn’t going to back down to the more veteran rinks they’ll face at the provincials.

“I’m pretty excited and I think we’ll do well,” she said.

“If we continue to play together like we have, we have a good shot.”

Payne’s coach, Kim Beaudry, agreed.

“They got better every game and if that continues, they’ll be all right,” she said.

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