Road To The Olympic Games

Curling

Manitoba, P.E.I. win junior curling titles

Manitoba's Kaitlyn Lawes and Prince Edward Island's Brett Gallant won their respective finals Sunday at the Canadian junior curling championships.

Manitoba's Kaitlyn Lawes and Prince Edward Island's Brett Gallant won their respective finals Sunday at the Canadian junior curling championships.

In the women's final, Lawes defended her title by defeating Ontario's Rachel Homan 7-4.

On the men's side, P.E.I. scored two in the 10th end to defeat Northern Ontario 7-6.

Lawes scored three in the 10th end to break at 4-4 tie at the Salmon Arm, B.C., event. She becomes the first skip since Prince Edward Island's Suzanne Gaudet (2001-2002) to win back-to-back Canadian junior titles.

It was the second win for Lawes and third Jenna Loder, and the first title for lead Breanne Meakin and second Laryssa Grenkow, all of whom represent the Pembina Curling Club in Winnipeg.

Ontario had beaten Manitoba 7-4 in the round robin earlier in the week.

"We had to go out there and hope for the best and wait for our opportunities," Lawes said. "We hung in there and played our game. We didn't really let them take control. We were kind of in control from the get-go.

"They didn't play as sharp as they did against us in the round robin, but they're all young and they have a phenomenal future ahead of them."

Lawes and Loder were teammates when they won last year's juniors in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and went on to a bronze medal at the world juniors in Ostersund, Sweden.

It is the ninth time a women's junior title has gone to Manitoba since the inaugural championship in 1971 in Vancouver.

Gallant, out of the Charlottetown Curling Club, wins his first title after finishing second in 2007 and third last year. The winning rink also includes third Adam Casey, second Anson Carmody and lead Jamie Danbrook.

"Finally," Gallant said. "We played a great game. After we gave up the three in the first, it was really unlucky, a picked rock and a jam. But then we had some good ends after that.

"The team played awesome. Dylan's team played very well, too. I was just glad we got a few chances. We just had to keep the pressure on them."

The game didn't start off in P.E.I.'s favour as Dylan Johnston's Northern Ontario rink jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first end. However, by the sixth end, the game was tied 5-5.

After a blanked seventh, Johnston was forced to one in the eighth. Gallant then blanked the ninth before the 10th-end dramatics.

"They just kept battling back," the 19-year-old Johnston said. "We had some key misses, which let them get their twos. But both sides were shooting good. We thought my last rock was good, but it went bad at the end."

It's only the second Canadian junior men's title for Prince Edward Island since the championship began in 1950. Skip Bill Jenkins won in 1976 in Kapuskasing, Ont.

Lawes and Gallant will now represent Canada at the 2009 world junior curling championships March 5-15 in Vancouver.

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