Middaugh back from brink

BILL LANKHOF, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

MISSISSAUGA -- The Scotties Tournament of Hearts provincial women's curling championship nearly turned into a long day's journey into night.

When Sherry Middaugh stole one in the extra end to beat Michele Boland it put a hold on speculation by organizers that they might have to order out for breakfast.

Middaugh's 4-3 squeaker gave her fourth place and sent her into the playoffs against three-time Ontario champion Alison Goring.

Losses by Sara Harvey's and Middaugh's rinks would have set up The Perfect Storm scenario. It would have sent five teams into tie-breakers that would have gone on until well into this morning.

The standings looked like a frat house fraternity trying to get into a phone booth when Harvey lost 8-6 to Karen Bell.

Then, on her last shot, Boland came up about six inches shy. Middaugh was in -- everyone else got to go home.

"I'm just happy to win that game so we don't have to play five more, but I don't think the rest are very happy," Middaugh said, motioning to the players' lounge at the Dixie Curling Club.

The Middaugh foursome doubled its pleasure in the evening Page playoff 3-4 game against Goring, coasting to a 10-4 victory in eight ends to qualify for the semi-final.

Earlier, Jenn Hanna's Ottawa rink beat Krista Scharf 7-6 to finish first in the round-robin with an 8-1 record. Scharf, the defending champion, finished second at 7-2. Both expect to play better in today's rematch, the Page playoff 1-2 game.

"I'm disappointed I didn't curl as well as I wanted," Scharf said. "We struggled with the sheet and I just couldn't get that feeling: 'Give me any shot and I'll make it.' "

The turning point came when Hanna took two in the fifth to go up 4-1. Said Hanna: "We've all had good games but all four of us haven't had a really good game at the same time. I'm hoping we've still got that one coming. We haven't hit our A-plus game."

The winner of the Hanna-Scharf game today advances directly to the final, tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. The loser will play Middaugh tonight in the semi-final, with the winner of that game on to the final.

The most exciting finish, though, came from Boland who dictated strategy for nine ends against the more experienced Middaugh.

But in the 11th, tied 3-3, Middaugh set up two guards and then bit a rock into the four-foot. Boland tried to peel guards and Middaugh replaced them. With last shot, Boland tried a wide draw to the outside aiming for a piece of the four-foot. She came up just short.

"That was a tricky spot," Middaugh said. "I threw one there and it ran earlier. She was just a little bit wide."


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