The road to the all-Ontarios took a little bump along the way but the Rainy River Owls, skipped by Angela Lee, advanced to the provincial girls’ curling showdown April 14-17 in Toronto.
Competing at the NWOSSAA playdowns here in Fort Frances, the Owls had little trouble beating Marathon 10-2 in the first-place tie-breaker last night.
Rainy River and Marathon had finished the seven-team, round-robin affair tied with 5-1 records.
Lee could have wrapped up top spot earlier Tuesday with a win over Laura McTaggart of Fort Frances High School. But her final stone was heavy, giving the Muskies a narrow 7-6 win.
Instead, that loss left them in a tie for first with Marathon, forcing last night’s tie-breaker.
But if Lee wasn’t sharp against the Muskies, her rink, which included third Lisa Bolen, second Danielle Shrumm, and lead Sarah Boily, certainly was against Marathon.
They scored four in the first end, then stole two more in the second and never looked back.
“We were a little bummed out after the loss [to the Muskies] but we relaxed and cooled down,” Boily said after the tie-breaker. “We were confident and we knew we could do it.
“It was a big confidence booster to score four when we had the hammer in the first end,” she noted.
The Owls dominated their first five games of the round-robin. After downing Red Lake 12-5, Rainy River cruised to an 11-3 victory over St. Ignatius (Thunder Bay) and a 13-2 win over Hammarskjold (Thunder Bay), both in just six ends.
Then they dumped Manitouwadge 7-3 and crushed Marathon 8-1 in only five ends.
Still, the rink nearly blew its opportunity to go to the all-Ontarios with Lee’s missed shot against the Muskies. But Lee was determined to not let that chance slip by again.
“We were curling well. We had figured out the ice and had gotten quite a few big leads, which allowed us to keep it clean and make the other teams make the shots,” said Lee, making her third all-Ontario appearance in the past four years.
“We weren’t happy with how we played [against the Fort] but they played well,” she added. “And I guess it was good to get it out of our system in that game . . . we just weren’t getting any breaks.”
Lee’s rink will be heading off to the provincials with lots of experience under their belts after curling at the national junior girls’ playdowns in Kelowna, B.C. earlier this year.
“The past few times we’ve finished in fourth place [at OFSAA] so it’s not like we are going there for our first time and the team has to adjust,” she stressed.
“We’d like to make it to the finals, work hard, and see what will happen,” she added.
Meanwhile, McTaggart’s rink, which included Jessica Ross, Kelly Nielson, Allison Cox, and Sarah Gushulak, finished the NWOSSAA playdowns with a 3-3 record—and quite easily could have been 4-2 or 5-1 if they would have gotten a few breaks in their two early losses.
After opening with a convincing 13-7 win over Manitouwadge, they suffered a pair of tight losses—8-7 to Marathon and then 9-8 in an extra end to St. Ignatius.
Then they lost their third in a row to Red Lake yesterday morning before closing out with a win against Lee in the afternoon draw.
“We were playing good in our last game, which we wanted to end to the season with a win,” said McTaggart. “We had some up and down games before this so it meant that we finished well.
“Three and three is better than 2-4,” she reasoned.
McTaggart said the key to their win over Lee came in the second end when they scored three to erase a 2-0 deficit. Then they increased their lead to 5-2 with steals of one in each of the third and fourth ends.
Rounding out the girls’ field were St. Ignatius (4-2), Red Lake (3-3), Manitouwadge (1-5), and Hammarskjold (0-6).
In boys’ action, the Dryden Eagles also are OFSAA-bound after a 12-5 win over Marathon in another tie-breaker. Both teams finished tied in the six-team NWOSSAA playdowns with 4-1 records.
Hornepayne was next at 3-2, followed by Beaver Brae (Kenora) at 2-3 and then St. Pat’s and Hammarskjold at 1-4.