Homan wins in extra-end thriller

The Canadian Press
Donna Spencer

ST. CATHARINES, Ont.–Already at the top of their game, Rachel Homan says her curling team was pushed to a new level to win this year’s Canadian women’s curling championship.
Ontario’s 8-6 win in an extra end over Manitoba’s Michelle Englot in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts final last night was a classic.
“It’s one of those games that makes you better as a team,” Homan said. “Makes you pull together and makes you grind out a really tough win.
“That’s the hardest win we’ve ever fought for, I think.”
Leading 6-4 coming home without hammer, Homan executed a tough double take-out at the back of the rings to prevent Manitoba from scoring three for the win.
Radiating relief and emotion after Homan’s shot, they had to calm themselves for the extra end when Englot drew for two.
With two counters at the top of the rings, Homan made a tricky raise with her last shot of the 11th to clear Manitoba’s shot stone for the win.
“She’s obviously an amazing hitter and she saved us,” third Emma Miskew said.
At 27, Homan is the youngest skip–male or female–to win three Canadian championships.
Homan, Miskew, and lead Lisa Weagle out of the Ottawa Curling Club won the Tournament of Hearts in 2013 and 2014.
It was the first Hearts win for second Joanne Courtney.
They’ll represent Canada at the women’s world championship March 18-26 in Beijing.
Homan has yet to win a world title after bronze and silver in two previous appearances.
“I can’t wait to put the Maple Leaf on,” Homan said.
Ontario had lost to Manitoba in Friday night’s Page playoff game between the top two seeds, and also to end their preliminary rounds Thursday.
So Englot needed to beat the team ranked No. 1 on the World Curling Tour a third-straight game to take the crown.
“We took her to last rock and made her make her last shot,” Englot reasoned.
“It was an incredible game.”
Ontario fell behind early and chased in those earlier losses to Manitoba, but a show-stopping double take-out by Homan in the second end last night put her in the driver’s seat early in the final.
Instead of safely drawing in for one point, Homan opted for the riskier double–hitting one thin and rolling to tap out the other.
She executed it perfectly to score three and lead 3-1 as the Meridian Centre roared its approval.
“It’s just an amazing experience in our home province,” said Homan, who won the title in 2013 in Kingston, Ont.
Manitoba stole single points in the fifth and seventh ends to lead 4-3, but Ontario countered with two in the eighth and a steal of one in the ninth.
Homan’s team was the first to claim a berth in December’s Olympic trials in their hometown of Ottawa when they won the 2015 Canada Cup.
Reigning Olympic champion Jennifer Jones now also has a trials spot.
The trials winner represents Canada in next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Homan’s team has structured their curling and, recently, their lives around being that team.
They’ve stepped back from their careers, curtailed their social lives, and introduced data analytics into their game in pursuit of winning trials.
“This win was a huge confidence booster for our team,” Weagle said.
Prize money and two years of Sport Canada funding adds up to $205,900 for Homan.
Englot’s team earned $26,900 as runner-up.
Calgary’s Chelsea Carey, the 2016 winner, beat Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville 7-4 for the bronze medal.
Total attendance at the 5,300-seat Meridian Centre was 56,804 for an average of 2,582 per game.
The attendance record is 154,000 set in 1998 in Regina.
The 2018 Scotties Tournament of Hearts will be held in Penticton, B.C.