Sherry Middaugh and Patti Lank put on a real show to celebrate the Southwestern Ontario Women's Charity Cashspiel's 10th anniversary.
In fact, the consensus was that yesterday's final was the best the event has seen.
Middaugh won the $11,000 first prize with a 10-8 extra-end win over Lank in what turned out to be a 3 1/2 -hour thriller at the London Curling Club.
It was the Coldwater rink's third win at this event. Middaugh did it with a new rink featuring Kim Moore at third, Kate Hamer at second and Andra Marmark at lead. "I'm pleased with how we've started," she said. "This is our third spiel together and we've done quite well in all three."
Middaugh has been one of the most successful women curlers in Ontario. But she was given a battle by Lank's Niagara Falls, N.Y., rink.
It's early in the curling season but the final proved a big-time exhibition of shot-making. Lank exerted a ton of pressure on Middaugh early, but some key shots from Moore got her back in. Big shots included a triple takeout in the sixth that limited Lank to only one point and a 5-3 lead and then a key double takeout in the turnaround eighth end.
With the score tied 5-5 in that eighth end, Lank was counting two with one rock almost buried. Moore came off the almost buried rock, rolling over to take out Lank's second rock in the four-foot. Middaugh now counted a pair.
Lank drew into the four-foot and Middaugh then hit it and rolled behind cover. Lank was a little heavy with the next shot and Middaugh put a rock up front to make Lank's draw against four more difficult. Lank came up short and Middaugh scored three.
Lank did come back with some great shots. her best when she stole one in the 10th to force the extra end.
She negotiated a small port with centimetres to spare to take out Middaugh's shot rock. Middaugh couldn't duplicate the feat. In the 11th, Middaugh was left with an open hit for two.
"It was a great game. A lot of momentum swings and a lot of great shots. I don't think there were many missed shots," Middaugh said. "It was well curled."
It was a good showing for Lank. Her regular second, Caitlan Moraldo, took sick and Lank had to play her first game with only three curlers. She brought in a spare second and still made it to the final. "I'm very happy. We played very consistently," Lank said.
Middaugh is happy with how her new rink has come together. It was evident they're still in the process of learning about each other's game. Many times Middaugh would call for a shot from one end of the rink and stop to have to explain it. There were many long discussions.
"They have to be comfortable as well," she said. "If they aren't comfortable with the shot called, then they aren't going to make it. We all have to be together."
She said it's a learning process. "You make that effort to learn (about each other). We're not carrying a full-time coach, so the onus is on us to learn about each other.
"We've communicated well and so far there haven't been any issues. I don't think there will be. But I think because we're a new team, everyone is on their best behaviour. You try extra hard. The challenges are there, but it's fun."
The celebrity bonspiel, played prior to the opening of the main event, raised more than $10,500 for the care and cure of breast cancer. The cashspiel is a qualifying event for the Canada Cup of Curling and a World Curling Tour event.