The Yorkton Curling Club and the Gallagher Centre played host to the 2013 Grain Millers Canada Corp. Men's Sask. Curling Tour as well as the 2013 Cornerstone Credit Union Ladies Cash Bonspiel this past weekend.
In total, 31 rinks (15 male, 16 female) from two provinces took part in 68 games held over a three day period in order to name two eventual champions.
Those two champion rinks were the Michelle Englot rink from Regina and the Darrell McKee rink from Saskatoon. Englot edged out a young, strong Kristen Streifel rink 5-4 in the Ladies final while the McKee rink stunned the previously undefeated Justin Mihalicz rink 7-5 in the Men's final.
The ladies final was a battle of youthful exuberance versus quiet, experienced confidence as the veteran Englot, who has competed at a high level in curling since 1983, faced the 2012 Saskatchewan Junior Champion rink led by skip Kristen Streifel. The Streifel rink had been undefeated until the final, qualifying through the 'A' side, while Englot and company had to play three extra games and qualified for the final from the 'C' side.
The young Streifel rink gave the Englot rink all they could handle early on as the two rinks traded points. Then, with the score even at two in the fourth end and Streifel with the hammer, the Englot rink struck; stealing two points thanks to a weak throw by Streifel that left her last rock short of the circles, giving Englot a 4-2 lead through four ends.
The Streifel rink cut the Englot lead in half in the sixth end to make it 4-3 before tying the score 4-4 going into the final end with Englot grabbing the hammer.
Englot played the final end calmly, forcing the younger Streifel rink to make high stress, mistake-free shots, which they did until the final rock, at which point it all unravelled. With Englot sitting one in the four-foot circle, Streifel needed to either takeout the Englot rock or draw closer to the button; something she could not do as she missed her shot and in the process handed the Englot rink the Cornerstone Credit Union Ladies Cash Bonspiel title.
"It's very nice to win this Spiel," said Englot after the final game. "This gives us a bye into the provincials so for the month of December we don't have any events left other than to prepare for provincials."
Englot was also happy to see a young rink such as Streifel's play so well throughout just their second women's event. "They played really well," mentioned Englot, continuing, "They took us right to the last shot. It was a good game from both sides and it's great to see a young team like that be in the final of a women's Spiel like this."
On the Men's side of things, the McKee rink managed to avenge their lone defeat at the hands of the Mihalicz rink by beating the 'A' side qualifiers 7-5 in a game that the McKee rink never trailed in.
The Saskatoon based McKee rink jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after the first end before the Mihalicz rink got on the board in the second to make it 2-1 after two ends. McKee went up 3-1 in the third but with the hammer in the fourth the Mihalicz rink stormed back, scoring two points to even it up at 3-3 midway through the game.
The McKee rink answered the Mihalicz deuce with a deuce of their own to go up 5-3 after five ends before the McKee rink put the game away with the first, and last, steal of the Men's final to give themselves a 6-3 lead; A lead that the Mihalicz rink could not recover from resulting in a 7-5 McKee victory.
The win gives the McKee rink a little more momentum into their next bonspiel, but it also helps their chances are reaching their main goal: Provincials. "Getting the 10 points for the Sask. tour was big for us," said skip McKee. "I think we have a good chance of getting a spot in the provincials now and that's really what the goal was."
The victory not only gives the McKee rink a valuable 10 points on the Saskatchewan Tour, it also gives them $2,700 in prize money while the Englot rink, by virtue of their victory in the Cornerstone Credit Union Women's cash bonspiel, pockets $4,000 and a spot in this year's Provincials.