Vandepoele hoping for a landmark victory

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:28 AM ET

Alyssa Vandepoele has been right there the last two years.

Unfortunately for her, she was right there to witness someone else win the Manitoba junior women’s curling championship.

The Landmark product is hoping for a landmark victory on Monday at the Victoria Curling Club, where the provincial winner will be crowned.

Vandepoele put herself in great position — once again — by posting the only 7-0 record in the round robin portion of the 16-team event. Vandepoele was battling defending champion Breanne Meakin of St. Vital in the 1-1 Page playoff game at press time on Sunday night.

A win would have vaulted her directly to Monday’s final. A loss would have meant a spot in the semifinal against the winner of the 2-2 game between Victoria’s Kate Cameron and East St. Paul’s Katie Spencer.

Vandepoele, who plays out of Ste. Anne, was not concerned about going into the playoffs with an undefeated record.

“It’s been a good week,” Vandepoele said Sunday morning after downing Pembina’s Shannon Birchard 9-2 in her round-robin finale. “Some people would be superstitious about it or whatever, but we’re excited to be playing well.”

The last two provincial championships have ended in heartbreak for the Vandepoele foursome, which also includes Beausejour’s Selena Kaatz (who throws fourth stones), Landmark’s Kristin MacCuish and Balmoral’s Lindsay Baldock. Last year they were 5-0 in the round robin before dropping their last two games and then losing a tiebreaker to miss the playoffs completely. The year before that, they dropped the final to Meakin.

Dropping the championship match in 2009 was one thing, but stumbling down the stretch in 2010 after starting out 5-0 really ate at Vandepoele.

“We worked really hard this summer,” she said.

It also helped that Vandepoele, a first-year student at the University of Manitoba, clinched her provincial berth in last year’s Junior Christmas Bonspiel.

“We didn’t have to peak until now, so that’s been really great,” Vandepoele said. “We’ve slowly been getting better. We felt at the Christmas spiel (this year) we had a good run but still had lots to work on.

“We had a good week of practice and are real excited to be here.”

Driving them on Monday will be the fact that this is Baldock’s final year of junior eligibility. Another provincial championship of being right there but not quite getting over the hump won’t cut it.

“We kind of want to get ’er done this year,” Vandepoele said.

The semifinal will be played at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, with the final set for 1:30 p.m.


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