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Lawton steals her way to a second Canada Cup win

Just call her the thief from ’Toon Town.

Stefanie Lawton (Photo: CCA/Michael Burns Photography)

Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton pulled off a pivotal steal of three points in the seventh end en route to a 7-3 victory over Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard in the women’s final of the Canada Cup at The Arena on Sunday.

All told, Lawton stole a total of 24 points in Medicine Hat this week as she collected her second Canada Cup title in the eight-year history of the event.

“That’s what I hear. I didn’t realize that we’ve stolen so many points,” said Lawton, whose Granite Curling Club-based squad, including third Sherry Anderson, second Sherri Singler, and lead Marliese Kasner, collects $28,200, including a $25,000 prize for top spot.

“But, yes. We just go out there, play the game we can, and put the pressure on the other teams to make a great shot.”

Lawton purloined those three points — which made the score 6-2, and put the game out of reach — when Bernard, looking at four yellow Lawton stones, attempted a hit-and-stick in the button with her final rock, but instead rolled out of the rings.

Lawton stole a total of four in Sunday’s final, to go with three in a 9-2, Page Two-Two playoff win on Saturday against Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., and three more in an 8-4 victory over Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink in Saturday’s semifinal.

“They never were behind the T-line. I really noticed that,” said Bernard, whose 2010 Olympic silver medal-winning outfit from the Calgary Curling Club includes third Susan O’Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire, and lead Cori Morris. “They were always getting rocks in there, and we were always chasing, and we weren’t quite making it. And you’ve got to be the other way around with them.

“Losing still feels horrible. It wasn’t our best game, for sure, and those guys were having a great game,” added Bernard, whose team took home a $15,000 consolation prize for second place, plus another $3,200 for their round-robin exploits.

“We even said after the third or fourth end that we had to start having them chase us, and we never, ever got there. The ice was a little straighter, and we just never got the shots in there first.”

Lawton’s team earns automatic berths into the 2011 Canada Cup, which runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 in Cranbrook, B.C., and the 2012 World Financial Group Continental Cup, from Jan. 12 to 15 in Langley, B.C.

Lawton’s two Canada Cup crowns tie her with Kleibrink for most among women’s skips.

Lawton and Bernard entered Sunday’s final with one win apiece in head-to-head action at this major Canadian Curling Association event.

Lawton had knocked off Bernard 7-6 in the Page One-One playoff game during the 2008 Canada Cup in Kamloops, B.C., later defeating Kelly Scott of Kelowna, B.C., 7-4 in the championship final.

Bernard had turned back Lawton in pool play, by an 8-5 count, during the 2009 Canada Cup at Yorkton, Sask. Bernard had previously reached the Canada Cup semifinal twice — in 2008 and 2009.

O’Connor had saved the Bernard quartet in the third end with a couple of fine shots, including a double takeout on a long runback, that limited Lawton to a single point and a 1-1 scoreline. Bernard herself made a double takeout in the sixth that limited the damage to a single point for Lawton.

But in the end, it all came down to that seventh-end gaffe by Bernard.

“That’s huge when you’re in such a tight game. I think if we could have kept the game close, we would have eventually got an end where we were making them chase us,” said Bernard. “But giving up a three on that ice? It was the weight I wanted to throw. We just kept thinking it would curl, and it just didn’t. It was a different sheet of ice than it had been all week.”

The Lawton team curled at 86 per cent, compared to the Bernard crew’s 79 per cent.

Both of her Canada Cup championships “feel great, definitely,” said Lawton. “It’s a different team this year, with Sherry playing third, and it’s a great feeling to come out here to play as well as we did, and shoot as well as we did.

“We’re pretty excited.”

With multi-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts participant Anderson in her squad, “I think it’s really good for Stef, because it keeps her calm,” said Bernard. “And Sherry’s got lots of experience.

“They played great. We just struggled. The best team won.”