Kleibrink, Larouche top Sections in Canada Cup

Quebec’s Marie-France Larouche and Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink hung tough during final-round scuffling in Canada Cup women’s preliminaries at the Gallagher Centre on Friday night and qualified for this morning’s Page One-One playoff tilt. Each team logged 4-1 records in their respective round-robin sections.  Their playoff game rewards the winner with a bye to the championship final on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. while the loser plays the semi-final this afternoon at 3 p.m. Larouche left no doubt about her superiority in her section by routing Amber Holland of Regina 9-2 on Friday night. On an adjacent sheet, Kleibrink and her team survived a gut-clencher, stealing the 7-6 winner in an extra end over winless Sherry Middaugh of Coldwater, Ont. Kleibrink maintained control in this one until Middaugh posted a go-ahead deuce in the ninth end and held her foe to a tying single coming home. In the extra, Middaugh needed a full in-turn come-around draw to the four-foot but was inches out. Earlier in the day, the immaculate Kleibrink team ousted former two-time Canadian champion Kelly Scott of Kelowna 11-6. Larouche, previously unbeaten, lost a 6-5 decision to Saskatchewan champion Stefanie Lawton of Saskatoon. At press time on Friday night, Mary-Anne Arsenault of Halifax and Michelle Englot of Regina were entangled in a sudden-death tiebreaker with the winner advancing to the 8:30 a.m. sudden-death playoff against Calgary’s Cheryl Bernard, who won twice on Friday to stay alive. Arsenault whaled Scott 7-3 in the afternoon to amass a 3-and-2 round-robin record while Englot flunked out in an attempt to avoid a tiebreaker by losing 11-4 to Lawton on the nightshift. Bernard defeated Arsenault 11-6 Friday morning and then sidelined Cathy King of Edmonton 10-9 in a wild extra-end afternoon tiff.  “We thought we’d be playing tiebreakers all night,” said Bernard. Arsenault, who throws last rocks with Kay Zinck skipping, was in top form in eliminating Scott from the scene.  “We just outcurled them,” said the Halifax sniper. “We knew it was a must win and the four of us put together a pretty cohesive game.” The Easterners stole four points en route to the decision. Bernard held a 7-2 lead on King after six but the Edmonton outfit replied with four in the seventh and a steal in the eighth before the teams traded deuces leading to the extra end, where Bernard drew her last rock cold to the button with King lying a pair. TSN will provide live coverage of the women’s semi-final at 3:00 pm CT on Saturday and the final on Sunday morning at 8:30 am CT/10:30 am ET.