On the menu today: a top junior squad

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

BRANDON -- Start with a skip from Winkler, toss in a third and a second from La Salle, and then finish it off with a lead from Dugald.

What do those ingredients get you?

A top-notch junior women's curling team, that's what.

The Cal Neufeld rink -- "My mom likes Calleen," Neufeld said of her full first name -- has quietly staked its claim as a bona fide contender at the provincial junior women's curling championship at the Brandon Curling Club.

Neufeld, seeded fourth, edged Winnipeg's Chelsea Carey 6-5 in the final round-robin draw yesterday afternoon to finish first in her pool at 6-1. Neufeld will meet 7-0 Kaileigh Strath, of Souris, in the 1-1 page playoff game today at 9 a.m.

The winner advances to the 5 p.m. final, while the loser must play in the 1 p.m. semifinal.

Neufeld, 19, curls with La Salle 16-year-olds Sabrina Neufeld and Laryssa Grenkow and Dugald 20-year-old Lindsay Edie. They posted 4-3 round-robin records in their two previous provincial appearances, so they're pumped about their first playoff berth.

"It feels amazing," Cal Neufeld said. "We're just so relieved right now. If we did lose this game (to Carey), it wasn't going to be a big deal. We just would have had to play more games.

"It's a good break for us. We're excited."

Carey's loss dropped her into a three-way tie for second with Carman's Tracy McCrea and Winnipeg's Kaitlyn Lawes (Pembina) at 5-2. Carey edged McCrea 6-5 in the first tiebreaker yesterday, but she lost 6-5 in an extra end to Lawes, the No. 1 seed, in the final tiebreaker last night.

It was an emotional scene afterwards, as Carey broke down in the arms of her father and coach, Dan. It was Carey's sixth and final chance at a provincial title.

Lawes will battle fellow Winnipegger Heather Pierson (Granite) in the 2-2 game this morning. Pierson and 2001 provincial champ Alli Nimik (Winnipeg-Victoria) met yesterday morning in a do-or-die round-robin game for second place in their pool, and Pierson prevailed 6-4.

Neufeld moved from Winkler to Winnipeg in August to work for Great-West Life as a records management technician.

"I file papers and stuff," she said. "It's not that hard."

The move, however, allowed her to practise more with her team.

"That helps a lot," Neufeld said. "We're really connecting better this year. We're getting along and the more rocks we throw, we feel the better we are as a team."

MOVING ON: No. 1 seed Dan Kammerlock sounds almost more concerned about the men's zone playdowns he'll be playing in later this week than capturing his first junior men's title in his final year of eligibility.

"It would mean a lot to win, but at the same time I'm really looking forward to going into the men's," Kammerlock said. "I've been in juniors for quite a while now. We've been playing a lot of men's (events) and having a lot of fun."


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