Friday, February 1

Englot Wins Saskatchewan!!!

Regina rink rocks: Englot beats Lawton in final, wins sixth provincial title

Doug McConachie, The StarPhoenix
Published: Monday, January 28, 2008

Michelle Englot got her 44th birthday present five days late, but the Regina host committee of the 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts got an even bigger present Sunday.

An open takeout for two with her final shot against Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton gave Englot the SaskPower provincial women's curling championship -- her sixth in a career that spans three decades -- and means Saskatchewan's hopes to win a Canadian championship for the first time since 1997 -- when Regina's Sandra Schmirler last earned that title -- now rests with a hometown girl.

The last time Regina hosted the Scotties, the title went to Edmonton's Cathy Borst (King).

Englot broke onto the Saskatchewan scene in 1983 as a 20-year-old, winning the provincial junior women's title and established herself in women's competition, winning three Saskatchewan titles in a row from 1998 to 1990. She got her fourth green jacket in 1992 and another in 2001.

But her teams have never captured a Canadian crown. In her last appearance at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Sudbury, Ont., she finished a disappointing 4-7.

But there are high expectations this year, Englot says, with hopes there will be a lot of vocal support for her team of third Darlene Kidd, second Roberta Matereri and lead Cindy Simmons, who is wife of Saskatchewan's defending men's champion Pat Simmons.

"We'll go in and take it one game at a time and really enjoy it," she said of the Feb. 16-24 championship at Regina's Brandt Centre.

When Lawton stole a single in Sunday's ninth end to take a 4-3 lead, she appeared to be in the control as her rink chased its second provincial crown in four years. But one of the easier shots Lawton had to make in the 10th end led to her downfall. Sitting with one in the house, with Englot sitting partially buried behind a guard, Lawton attempted to split the house, holding the Regina squad to a single and setting up an extra end. Except the draw down the centre never stopped until the back of the 12-foot, leaving Englot a wide open hit and stick for a deuce and the win. "I'm glad she was throwing it, because I was shaking holding the broom," Kidd said after Englot's solid shot.

"It was a tricky spot," Kidd said afterwards, because "it's straight and fast."

"I thought when I released it, it was OK," Lawton said. "Then when it wasn't slowing down (halfway down) I still thought it was OK. I didn't think it was going to be that deep."

The two teams battled in front of a large crowd at the Civic Centre, with Englot making a draw in the seventh after missing with her first shot. What looked like a possible three-ender for Lawton turned into just one, leaving the game tied 3-3.

"It's always a battle" against Lawton, Englot said afterwards. Lawton had downed her 7-5 in the round robin and had a string going for her in provincials. Lawton won both the round-robin contest and a semifinal contest against Englot in last year's championship, before Regina's Jan Betker (who didn't enter playdowns this year), won the Saskatchewan title.

It was a bitter loss for Lawton. In the past four years at provincials, the worst Lawton's team has finished in round-robin competition is 5-2. But after winning in 2005 in Assiniboia, Lawton lost out in the semifinal in 2006 and last year fell to Betker in the final.

Englot, SaskTel's communication manager in Regina, had not made the provincial finals since 2002, but said she felt her team had "something" when they captured Regina's Rocktoberfest -- their first bonspiel of the year. "We said let's go for it . . . although we all have jobs and families and don't have the time to travel like some of the others."


Feb. 16-24 in Regina

B.C.: Allison MacInnes
Alberta: Shannon Kleibrink
Sask: Michelle Englot
Manitoba: Jennifer Jones
Yukon/N.W.T.: Kerry Galusha
Ontario: Sherry Middaugh
Quebec: Marie France Larouche
P.E.I.: Suzanne Gaudet
Nova Scotia: Mary-Anne Arsenault
New Brunswick: Sylvie Robichaud
Newfoundland: Heather Strong
Team Canada: Kelly Scott, B.C.

Englot *  010 200 000 2 -- 5
Lawton   101 000 101 0 -- 4
(* denotes hammer)
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008