And the Lawes won

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:32 PM ET

It was the middle of last week when Kaitlyn Lawes turned to her roommate, lead Sarah Wazney, and said, "Hey, we can win this thing. Let's go do it."

So that's what they did.

The Winnipeg foursome ended Manitoba's 12-year drought at the Canadian junior women's curling championship yesterday, downing Saskatchewan's Stephanie McVicar 7-6 in the title match in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

"It's amazing," an emotional Lawes said from the Soo shortly after the win. "I'm just so excited and so happy for the girls. It's been an amazing week out here."

Lawes and Wazney, along with third Jenna Loder and second Liz Peters (the daughter of Vic), will represent Canada at the junior women's championship in Ostersund, Sweden, March 1-9.

FIRST SINCE '95

The last Manitoba team to win the national crown was Kelly Scott (nee MacKenzie) in 1995. Scott, who now lives in B.C., is the reigning world women's champ.

Jennifer Jones, also currently one of the world's top female curlers, captured the Canadian title for Manitoba the year before that, in 1994.

Now Lawes is on the list of those who can call themselves Canadian champs.

"Sounds nice," she said.

Coincidentally, Lawes' half-sister, Andrea, represented Canada at the junior women's worlds in 1990, when they were also held in Sweden.

Andrea played in Ontario at the time, and little sis would love any advice she has to offer.

"I'm sure we'll talk," Lawes said.

Yesterday's victory also snapped Manitoba's two-year losing streak in the final, as Winkler native Calleen Neufeld dropped both the 2006 and 2007 title matches.

Lawes shot the lights out in the early going yesterday, propelling Manitoba to a 6-1 lead after only four ends.

Saskatchewan stormed back, however, scoring two in the fifth and adding steals of one in both the sixth and seventh that made it a 6-5 game.

The teams traded singles in the eighth and ninth, but Lawes, who had the hammer coming home, didn't have to throw her last stone. That set off shrieks of joy from the 'Toban foursome.

"It was a battle," Lawes said. "We knew we were going to have a close game. Even though we had a big lead, we knew they were going to fight."

Lawes, a 19-year-old University of Manitoba student, never felt like she was losing her grip, even though it appeared that way as Saskatchewan stormed back.

EVERYTHING CLICKED

"We were in control for most of the game," she said. "They stole a couple points, but we kept out momentum going and didn't let it bother us. You block it all out."

Lawes, Loder and Wazney have been together for most of their junior careers, and they lost the Manitoba finals in 2006 and 2007 to Neufeld. Peters joined the fold this season, and everything clicked.

They cruised to the Manitoba title last month in Stonewall, then tore through the field in the Soo.

They were 10-2 in the round robin, which got them a bye to yesterday's final, and all four team members were either first or second at their respective positions in shooting percentages.

Lawes and Co. had a solid cheering section yesterday, including Kyle Peters' Manitoba junior men's team, which failed to make the playoffs.

"Our boys made a buffalo," Lawes said with a laugh. "That was their creation. It was great. We had tons of support out here."

The one person missing, however, was Lawes' father Keith, her curling hero who passed away in November.

"I feel just the same as provincials, if not more emotional about it," she said. "It'd be really nice to celebrate this win with him, but I'm sure he was there with us."

The Canadian champs will return to Winnipeg today, expecting to land at Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport at 10 a.m.

In the junior men's final, Quebec's William Dion defeated Ontario's Travis Fanset 8-6. Quebec finished with an overall record of 11-2.

It's the third men's title for Quebec and first since 1992 (skip Michel Ferland).


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