Brandonites Lois Fowler and Maureen Bonar were a dominating force together in the women’s curling ranks, and they picked up right where they left off in the senior ranks.
Fowler and Bonar, who appeared in three national Scott Tournament of Hearts together, reunited on the ice this year with Bonar reaching the minimum age for seniors and added another provincial title to their resumés.
The pair, along with Cathy Gauthier and Alysson Stewart, went undefeated at the Tim Hortons Manitoba senior women’s provincial curling championship at the Brandon Curling Club and capped their run with a 6-4 win over Hamiota’s Sandra Cowling in Sunday’s final.
This is the third senior title for Fowler, and she said this one is special because of how good of friends she is with everyone on the team.
"When we put this team together, I didn’t really know if I was going to curl and then Maureen just turned 50 and we decided to give it a whirl," she said. "We’ve all played together before and we just always believed in another and that we could do it. We just kept building on each game all weekend and we had some real battles.
" It’s just extra special to do it with good friends."
Although they went undefeated at provincials, the Fowler foursome faced some tough challenges toward the end of the event. The squad was pushed in an extra end in her final round-robin game against Killarney’s Deb Collyer and scored three in the final end to beat Cowling 8-5 in the 1-vs.-1 Page game.
Cowling, whose team of Sheila Gregory, Jackie Brooks and Jeannine Skayman edged Stonewall’s Laurie Deprez 6-5 in the semifinals, looked to have control of the final in the seventh end after Fowler stuck on her blank attempt in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead. However, Cowling was a little light with her takeout in the seventh and stuck around to tie the game and give Fowler the hammer back for the final end.
Stewart made a brilliant tick shot to open the eighth, followed by a Gauthier double that opened up the house that left Fowler a takeout for the win.
This is the second time Cowling has lost a provincial final, but she took in stride.
"This one is OK," she said. "It was a well-played game and I’m really proud of our small hometown rink. We’re all from the same club and we’ve curled together for a long time and this is our second time of being runner-up, but we’ll get it one of these days."
Fowler’s team will now represent Manitoba at the national senior women’s championship, which will be held in Yellowknife, N.W.T., from March 22-30. Although Yellowknife may not be a traditional curling hotbed, Fowler is looking forward to playing for a national title somewhere other than Summerside, P.E.I.
"I think it’s going to be exciting," she said. "The two (national senior championships) that I’ve been to have been in the same club, same tournament, same province. This is going to be unique.
"I don’t think you’d just book a trip to Yellowknife. I think it’s going to be awesome for the four of us to go up there."
Meanwhile, at the Strathcona senior men’s event, also held at the Brandon Curling Club, Neepawa’s Kelly Robertson went 6-1 in the round robin to advance to today’s 1-vs.-1 Page playoff game against defending champion Bob Sigurdson. Kelly McMechan’s Brandon-based team went 5-2 and will take on Carl German in the 2-vs.-2 Page playoff game. Both games start at 9 a.m.
Pilot Mound’s Curtis McCannell went 5-2 in his pool, but fell 6-2 to Mike Mahon in a tiebreaker. Brandon’s Lory Saban and Dauphin’s Jim Todoruk both went 1-6.
The men’s final is slated for today at 4 p.m.