After a three-year absence, Michelle Englot will be returning to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts as skip of the Saskatchewan entry at this year’s Red Deer shootout.
On Sunday, she and her Regina Tartan Curling Club team of Lana Vey, Roberta Materi and Sarah Slywka downed Saskatoon’s Stefanie Lawton by a score of 9-7 in the final of the SaskPower Scotties provincial championship at the Humboldt Curling Club. Englot, who has skipped at six previous Canadian women’s championships, built a 6-3 lead after five ends on the way to the win. The Englot foursome was not to be denied, going undefeated throughout the five day championship.
As the reigning national women’s champions, Amber Holland and her Kronau Curling Club rink of Kim and Tammy Schneider and Heather Kalenchuck had already secured their place in the Red Deer Scotties Tournament of Hearts field as Team Canada. That meant one less seasoned entry to combat when Saskatchewan’s top teams gathered from January 25-29 in Humboldt. Still, the field was deep with talent in the 12-team, 2-pool format.
The pool preliminaries easily produced the two teams eligible for the A-1 vs. B-1 Page playoff game, when Lawton, of the Saskatoon Granite Club, finished with a 4-1 record in the A pool, while the Englot foursome finished 5-0 in the B pool. The second place finishers in both pools had to be determined by tiebreakers, when Regina’s Chantelle Eberle and Meadow Lake’s Robyn Silvernagle finished A pool play with 3-2 records, and Saskatoon’s Jill Shumay and Maryfield’s Candace Chisholm did likewise in B. In those tiebreakers, Eberle downed Silvernagle 8-2, while Shumay defeated Chisholm 8-3. In the resulting A-2 vs. B-2 playoff game, Shumay and her Nutana Curling Club team of Kara Johnston, Taryn Holtby and Jinaye Ayrey sidelined Eberle and her Callie Curling Club support crew by a score of 9-6.
The A-1 vs. B-1, Lawton-Englot shootout was a thriller. Tied 3-3 after five ends, 4-4 after seven and 6-6 after nine, Englot stole a single in the tenth end for a 7-6 victory. With the win, she and her Tartan teammates went straight to Sunday evening’s final, while Lawton and company would have to earn their way there in an afternoon semi-final matchup with the Shumay rink.
In that game, the Lawton team of vice, Sherry Anderson and front-enders Sherri Singler and Marliese Kasner used steals of one in the second end and two in the eighth to good effect in cruising to a 6-2 victory.
Despite a spirited attempt in the final, the Lawton foursome would come up just short in their championship matchup with Team Englot.
The 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts takes place February 18-26 at Westerner Park in Red Deer, Alberta.