Thursday, February 21

Sask Playoff Hopes Are Slim

Sask.'s playoff hopes need help

Englot loses twice on Wednesday to see record fall to 4-5

Murray McCormick, Saskatchewan News Network; Regina Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2008

REGINA -- Michelle Englot, who has dealt with more adversity off the ice than any skip should have to endure, is in dire straits at the Canadian women's curling championship.

Englot lost two games on Wednesday at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and needs plenty of help to make even a tiebreaker. Englot (4-5) is tied with Team Canada and B.C. for seventh heading into the final day of round-robin play.

"We need help -- big help," Englot proclaimed after losing 7-5 to Manitoba's Jennifer Jones at the Brandt Centre. "Five losses are probably too much but I haven't looked at who plays who and whatever to see if 6-5 would make it -- not that it matters at this point.

"It's a matter of pride in trying to get a better record. We'll come out and play hard (today)."

Englot and her Tartan crew of Darlene Kidd, Roberta Materi and Cindy Simmons opened play Wednesday in control of their fate. A couple of wins may have moved Saskatchewan into the playoff picture with a bit of cushion. Instead, Englot was beaten 7-5 by Heather Strong of Newfoundland-Labrador and then lost to Jones in the evening draw.

The evening loss may prove to be critical because both teams entered the game at 4-4. Teams with 6-5 records have made tiebreakers five times since the Page Playoffs were instituted in 1995. Those with 5-6 marks have never advanced.

"We were confident with four losses going into the game that we would be able to pull off a tiebreaker," Kidd said. "After this one, there has to be a lot of icing on the cake if we're to make playoffs."

Englot was back on the ice Wednesday after having two draws off. She left immediately after Tuesday's 8-4 loss to Nova Scotia's Mary-Anne Arsenault to attend her father's funeral in Montmartre. Joe Englot, 74, died Friday at the family home in Montmartre of a heart attack.

Englot stated the team was finished dealing with questions about her father's death and wanted to concentrate on curling. She was focused Wednesday but couldn't seem to recapture the momentum that led to a four-game winning streak which followed losses in her opening two games.

"It's just us," Kidd said. "The ice has been the same every game. The ice is a little bit quicker in the middle ends but it's us not doing what we should be doing."

Englot, who has lost three straight, hasn't had time to do any scoreboard watching.

"I've been glancing at the standings but there have been a lot of other things going on," said Englot, who was 4-7 in 2001 at her last Scotties in Sudbury. "It's hard to say what is going to happen but typically you never know what happens until the last game."

The seventh and eighth ends were the keys in the evening matchup. Jones was able to draw for three in the seventh to grab a 5-4 lead. In the eighth, Englot was heavy on both of her draws. The misses allowed Jones to steal two and assume control.

"We've been slipping deep all week and not controlling the front of the rings," Englot said. "That makes a big difference."

Englot has a bye this morning. She returns at 2 p.m. to play Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet (3-6) and opposes Alberta's Shannon Kleibrink (8-1) at 7 p.m. Englot's fate could be decided before she throws her first rock.

"That could be but we still want to play hard and have a record over .500," Englot said.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2008