Women’s curling takes close OUA championship win

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

(Photo by Heather Davidson)

GUELPH, Ont. – Carly Howard was fully ready to walk off the ice happy with her performance.

The skip of the Wilfrid Laurier women’s curling team made her last shot in the eighth and final end of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship final last Monday, but she sat without the hammer. All Carleton Ravens skip Jamie Sinclair had to do was draw for the win.

But a tight shot right out of her hands resulted in Sinclair’s rock wrecking on the guard and giving Laurier the point — and the school’s seventh provincial win.

“I was really excited I made my shot,” Howard said. “And I thought, ‘she’s going to make this for the win.’ No problem. I was going to come off the ice happy that I made my last shot and that’s all I could have done. The hammer was in her hands.”

“But the moment it left her hands, she called tight and the spot was straight, so I thought she’d be fine, but she hit the guard.”

The Hawks went on to win the OUA championship in a 4-3 win over the Ravens, and claimed the gold medal and top OUA seed in the upcoming Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships.

Howard and her rink of Cheryl Kreviazuk, Evangeline Fortier and Kerilynn Mathers put on a stellar performance for a week, going undefeated in the round robin to finish first in their pool before gliding through the OUA semifinals and finals in dramatic fashion, winning both games on forced steals.

And now, the 2013-14 installment of the Hawks join an elite group of Laurier women’s curlers who have captured past provincial championships. The Hawks had a minor hiatus off the podium last year after two consecutive championships in 2010-11 and 2011-12 under the reign of skip Laura Crocker.

And their season isn’t even done.

“Last year we had a struggle at the beginning, so we wanted to come back strong,” Howard said. “Having a lot of people behind us that did so well, we wanted to live up to that and have that moment as well. And we did.”

For Kreviazuk, this is her third provincial championship added to her four-year repertoire, on top of two CIS championships, and she was recently named an OUA second team all-star for this year.

“It feels really incredible,” fourth-year Kreviazuk said. “Three times. And I’m just so proud of my team. We worked really hard all season, so it was definitely worth it and to go undefeated all week [was] incredible. Absolutely incredible.”

The Hawks even went a perfect 13-0 this season, winning all games in OUA competition. In only her second year as skip for Laurier, Howard put forth an impressive effort, making veteran shots and having support from her rink through a flawless campaign.

“We came out so calm, because we knew we were going to nationals, and played so well,” she said.

With the top seed coming out of the OUA, Laurier now has their sights on the Hawks’ fifth national title in Regina, Saskatchewan on Mar. 19. With championships in 2008 and 2009, as well as 2011 and 2012, Kreviazuk will be looking for her third national title, and Howard will be looking for her first as a Laurier skip.

Laurier will open nationals defending their OUA championship win, as they face off in a rematch against the Carleton Ravens. Laurier will have to finish in the top four to move on to the semifinals.

But coach Maurice Wilson believes his team will have no problem with the pressure of the championship.

“It’s no problem. They know what they need to do to be successful. We’ve worked all season for this point, so they know exactly what the process is to go through to be successful,” he said.

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