Reuniting with Maureen Bonar brought back a lot of good memories for Lois Fowler this curling season, and the two Brandonites made an even better one on the weekend.
The pair won their first-ever national curling championship in Yellowknife, N.W.T., with teammates Cathy Gauthier and Allyson Ross when they beat Saskatchewan’s Lorraine Arguin 5-1 in the Canadian senior women’s final on Saturday.
Fowler had dreamed about winning a national title for quite some time — she started playing in women’s provincial championships in 1982 and reached the Scott Tournament of Hearts final in 1993 as Bonar’s third before losing to Saskatchewan in an extra end — and she still had trouble believing she finally won one after she arrived home on Sunday.
"I honestly don’t think it’s sunk in yet, at least for me," said Fowler, who won national senior bronze in 2009 and 2013. "I’m still sort of in la la land, but we walked into the Winnipeg airport and saw the shirts of Canada and it’s cool to think we’ll be buying stuff like that for the future."
"It’s totally a dream come true. It’s so awesome to cap it off and to do it with four good friends is a thrill."
Fowler’s team had a solid event. They finished first in the round robin with a 10-1 record and advanced straight through to the final.
The final was fairly defensive with five of the first six ends blanked. Fowler opened the scoring in the fourth when she missed an in-off for three and settled for one.
Arguin took one in the seventh, before Fowler made a runback double for three in the eighth and stole one in the ninth to seal the game.
The Manitoba squad from the Brandon Curling Club, which many called a dream team, lived up to their expectations and Bonar believes the players’ friendships and chemistry made the season that much more memorable.
"Reuniting with Lois has been wonderful," said Bonar, who became eligible for the senior ranks this season. "It’s brought back lots of history and memories and just a great chemistry. Bringing in two others like Cathy and Allyson, who are good friends and we’ve all curled with at some point, it was just like a great reunion and a lot of fun."
The Fowler foursome became just the second team from Manitoba to win a senior women’s national championship. Brandon’s Mabel Mitchell won the other in 1983.
Fowler’s team will now represent Canada at the 2015 world senior curling championships along with Nova Scotia’s Alan O’Leary. The location and dates of the event have not been announced.
O’Leary won the men’s final 9-8 over Kelly Robertson and his Neepawa-based team of Doug Armour, Peter Prokopowich and Bob Scales.
Like most of Manitoba’s games during the event, it was an offensive battle. However, Robertson was chasing most of the way as he never held a lead until he scored three in the seventh to go up 7-6. He forced Nova Scotia to one in the eighth, but was forced to one in the ninth to set the stage for O’Leary to draw the four-foot in the 10th to score his deuce and pick up the win.
The Manitoba squad had a successful week, finishing second in the round robin with a 9-2 record before beating Northern Ontario’s Robbie Gordon 10-8 in the semifinals. However, the final was the second time Robertson was up one going into the 10th against O’Leary and gave up a deuce.
"It’s disappointing, but losing a real close Canadian final isn’t all bad either," said Robertson, who was named a second-team all-star after shooting 80 per cent during the week. "We thought we played well and a shot here or there and we could have been the winner.
"We’re disappointed we got the silver, but there’s a lot of other people who wish they were in the same spot."