They were the number one seed heading into the Provincial Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Sunday night Kaitlyn Lawes, Selena Njegovan, Jocelyn Peterman and Kristin MacCuish left as 2024 champions.
The Fort Rouge foursome defeated Beth Peterson, Kelsey Rocque, Katherine Doerksen and Melissa Kurz of the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club 9-8 in the final of the Manitoba Women’s Curling Championship in front of an appreciative full house at the Access Event Centre in Morden.
“What a week,” said Lawes who won her fifth Scotties title. “It’s been so special playing here in Morden in front of all our fans, friends and family and to do this together, it’s our first provincial win as a team. I’m so proud of the girls for hanging in there right until the end. Beth and her team played phenomenal. First end, run-back after run-back. We knew that we had to bring our A game and hang in there and make some big shots when we needed to.”
Lawes was stellar all afternoon and she came up real big in the ninth end as her last rock thin double for two put her team up 9-7 coming home.
“When I let it go, I thought it was close,” Lawes said. “It was either a flash or a two, so we went for it. I thought it was kind of a gutsy call but I’m really proud of the girls and Selena made an amazing line call.”
“I had full confidence in her all week,” remarked Kristin MacCuish on her skip's performance Sunday. “Full confidence having her throw those big shots. She brings a lot of experience and I think that’s what she does well as a leader. Stays calm and full confidence knowing she had those last ones.”
Peterson, Rocque, Doerksen and Kurz came so close to forcing an extra end.
The Assiniboine Memorial foursome had shot rock and Peterson needed to find the four-foot with her final stone to play on.
It slid too deep.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” said Peterson. “People don’t even know how much adversity we had this week. It was a really long day, and it was a really long week with a lot of challenges thrown our way. I just thought we had this one in us so I’m pretty devastated but obviously the girls did such a good job of keeping us in that game. It was a tough game, and we were down a lot, but a lot of good shots were made so I’m really proud of this team.
Those medical issues affected both Peterson and Kurz who both visited a walk-in clinic. Fifth Jenna Loder, who had curled all year, stepped in when needed.
Lawes, Njegovan, Peterman & MacCuish were ranked fourth nationally heading into Morden and had a wildcard spot locked up for next month's Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Team Peterson had to win Sunday in order to earn their spot in Calgary.
“This was our only chance, and this one is going to sting for a while, but we had a lot of grit in us and came back and never quit. I was really proud,” said Peterson.
Team Peterson downed Kate Cameron of the Granite 8-4 in the semifinals Sunday morning and more than carried that momentum into the final against Team Lawes.
“Team Peterson played amazing, and we had to come with our best,” said Selena Njegovan who along with Kristin MacCuish won the 2016 Scotties with Kerri Einarson and the 2019 Scotties with Tracy Fleury. “They came at us from the first shot today so really proud of how they played and really proud of the girls for sticking in there all game.”
Sundays thrilling final was a fitting end to a spectacular week at the Access Event Centre.
“This is why we play,” noted Jocelyn Peterman. “We want to be in these big games and win these championships and to do it front of such a big crowd and such a knowledgeable and passionate curling crowd is amazing. We couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere.”
The 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts begins February 16th in Calgary.
Team Lawes joins four-time reigning champion Kerri Einarson and 2023 finalist Jennifer Jones in Alberta next month.
Kaitlyn Lawes was asked what winning the Provincial title does for her team’s confidence heading into the Nationals.
“It’s huge. Any chance you get to play in big finals, we keep saying the more finals we can get into the better, and it’s really exciting to go into the Scotties being Team Manitoba. It’s such an honor to be representing our great province.”