Stratton rink advances to provincials

While playing at the provincial level is nothing new for Angela Lee, what has changed for the new Northwestern Ontario junior ladies’ champ is her responsibility on the ice.
Having played at the past two junior provincial playdowns for the Jackie Bonot rink, Lee got the chance to skip her own foursome with the departure of Bonot to the Port Arthur Curling Club.
And she is taking full advantage of that opportunity.
The 17-year-old skip was the talk of the district playdowns last weekend in Rainy River, going undefeated during the round-robin portion (4-0) before downing Krista Risi (Fort William) 8-6 to earn the first berth to the provincials in Iroquois Falls next month.
Risi, who went 3-1 in the round-robin, later nipped Bonot 8-7 in an extra end to earn the second berth to the provincials (Bonot had advanced to the second qualifying game with an 8-2 win over Laura McTaggart of Fort Frances).
Lee, who rink includes third Lisa Bolen, second Danielle Schrumm, and lead Sarah Boily, took control of the game against Risi in the latter stages, admitting they struggled in the first half.
“We struggled in the first half a bit, and we had to make some tough shots to keep ourselves in the game, but then we curled much better in the second half,” Lee recalled.
“It was a very pleasant surprise that the girls could put five games in a row,” noted Lee’s father, Terry, the team’s coach and an accomplished senior curler in the district in his own right.
“I felt they had a good chance of making the playoffs, finishing in the middle [of the standings], but they got the breaks [and] when they did make mistakes, it didn’t cost them,” he added.
Lee, who also curls for the Rainy River Owls on the high school circuit, admitted she was surprised her rink was able to breeze through the playdowns as the only unbeaten team–especially considering the talent and age of many of them.
“Actually, we were surprised to win it because our goal was just to get out of our pool and hope for a good record,” Lee said from her home Monday evening.
That they did–and then some–reeling off wins in the round-robin over Ashley Kallos (Fort William), Carly Ray (Nipigon), Star Beaulieu (Geraldton), and Bonot.
But it was the 8-6 win over Bonot during Friday afternoon’s draw that was the most rewarding, said Lee, adding Bonot and Risi went into the playdowns as the clear-cut favourites to advance to Iroquois Falls.
“They [Bonot’s rink] were considered the strong rink coming in because we knew they were all strong curlers,” said Lee, adding she did not change her strategy because of her familiarity with the Port Arthur rink.
“That win gave us a lot of confidence,” she remarked. “We weren’t really worried about what [Jackie] could do, we were more interested in what our team does best.”
Lee said curling with a relatively young rink against older ones with more experience did not affect them at all on the ice. In fact, the Stratton rink went shot for shot with each team in each game they played–and looked every bit as the best team at the playdowns.
“I was kind of nervous at first, and I expected to be a bit nervous, but I’ve always curled against older curlers and done all right,” Lee said. “Our rink curled really well.”