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Club champions defend playoff crown

Last year’s city finalists have unfinished business at next month’s Tournament of Champions. “We wanted another shot at cities. That was our main goal this year.

Last year’s city finalists have unfinished business at next month’s Tournament of Champions.

“We wanted another shot at cities. That was our main goal this year. Coming in second place last year wasn’t good enough,” said Kathy Piper after Sunday’s 9-4 victory in six ends against Maureen Forbes in the women’s final at the St. Albert Curling Club.

The fourth club championship in a row for the undefeated Wednesday night league team was celebrated without its regular skip, Christina Monk, who is on maternity leave.

“I hope we made our skipper happy,” said Piper.

Early in the season she was promoted from lead to pilot the rink in Monk’s absence.

“I’ve been playing for five years with the team and I decided I wouldn’t mind moving up just a little bit. Christina thought that skip would be the best spot for me this year so I accepted her offer and it’s worked out well,” said Piper, who has skipped teams before in her curling career.

Nicole Bellamy, Laurie Schreiner and sub Shirley Haggith round out the line-up. Filling in for Schreiner in the final was Sandy Sadoway, a noted club curler.

“We’ve come together so much as a team over the years that we know what we want to play, regardless of who is in what position,” Piper said. “We’ve switched it up this year so things are a little bit different than when Christina was here but we all know how to play the game, we just needed to come out and be patient and use our strategy that we’ve always used.”

Leading up to the 18th edition of the women’s event at the Tournament of Champions is the March 26 to 28 Dominion northern club playdowns in Sherwood Park.

“We just have to go out there and be patient and try and keep the nerves down,” Piper said.

At cities the St. Albert reps dropped a 7-5 decision to Cindy Westgard of the Thistle. Fatigue set in while playing their sixth game in three days.

“We were pretty determined last year, just like we are this year,” Piper said of the team’s trip to the final after semifinal losses the previous two years. “This year is going to be even more different because the whole team dynamics have changed. We need to keep working together more as a group. We’re used to having Christina. She knows the game and has been playing forever and skipping for a long time so strategically we needed to talk more about shots so we always agree on a specific shot.”

In the eight-team club playoffs, the revamped foursome plowed their way past the Murch, Pyle and Forbes teams in the A bracket for a berth in the final.

“We were in control for the most part,” said Piper, who fell short of skipping the team to a perfect season with a tie in an abbreviated league game prior to Christmas.

The reigning champs outcurled the opposition by a wide margin in the final. They started with a deuce in one and added a three-ender in three to make it 5-1.

“Getting that three made us feel good,” Piper said. “We stole one in four, so we felt pretty good being up 6-1 at that point in the game.”

Forbes rallied with a three in five after a mistake by Piper with her first shot.

“I wasn’t happy giving away that three that’s for sure,” Piper said. “I had a big miss in the fifth end. Looking at my ice when I got ready to throw, it looked really tight and I threw peel weight instead of my normal takeout weight. It just hung out there and I basically gave them a chance at a big end.”

Piper recovered to score three in six to complete the rout. After the measurement to determine the third counter the teams shook hands.

“They had rocks in there, so we just had to be patient. We knew what we needed to do to score in that end,” Piper said. “Our strategy was to come out and make it a short game and we succeeded.”

Jeff Hansen

About the Author: Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.
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