Senior curling provincial finals

 Middaugh and Rajala capture crowns


   Middaugh repeats as senior women's champion while Rajala takes his third title,

   at the senior provincial curling championships at the St. Thomas Curling Club


  Sunday, February 23, 2020


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ST. THOMAS - Sherry Middaugh repeats and Howard Rajala is now a three-time champion.

Middaugh and her rink from the Thornhill Curling Club, successfully defended their title defeating fellow Thornhill rink Colleen Madonia, 6-3, in the women's final, at the provincial championships, at the St. Thomas Curling Club.

For Middaugh's three teammates it's a dynasty as they were part of Madonia's winning rink in 2018.

Rajala defeated Ingersoll's Bob Armstrong, 7-5, in the men's final, for his third crown in eight years, adding to titles in 2017 and 2013.

Both Ontario champions move on to the National senior championships, in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, March 16-22.


Steal lifts Middaugh

The women had a tight affair until Middaugh had a steal of two in the seventh end, when Madonia missed a shot. That gave the Middaugh rink a three point cushion heading to the eighth and final end, where the skip ended up not having to throw her stones.

"We didn't expect Colleen to miss that shot. We expected her to make it and tied up coming home with last rock. I assumed I'd have to throw my last one. But the girls made all of their shots in the eighth end I didn't have to throw," Middaugh said. "I felt the first half of the game they (Madonia) controlled it. We felt we were chasing. We were forced to one and they got a deuce (second end) and then we were forced to one again. We stepped up in the latter half, but that miss on her part we took advantage and when you're three up coming home you keep things clean which we did."

Now the Middaugh looks to try to finish what they couldn't last year at Nationals, advancing to and winning the final.

"To repeat (at provincials) and head back to Nationals is pretty fantastic," Middaugh said. "We feel like we still have something that we want to prove, but there are a lot of good teams there. We had a really good run at it last year and lost to (Saskatchewan's) Sherry Anderson. We had a four point lead at one point and it went to an extra end."

Middaugh, whose career includes four National bronze medals at the Hearts and a silver from the 2013 Canadian Olympic Trials, finished undefeated at this year's provincial event with an 8-0 record.

"It was nice knowing once I stopped playing the elite tour there was still a place for us. Senior is still very competitive and the nationals is a National," Middaugh said.

Madonia edged Bayview's Alison Goring in the semifinal, 7-6, in a meeting of the second and third place teams from the round robin.


Three in the first end boost Rajala

Rajala jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first end of the men's final, forcing Anderson play from behind all game.

"That gets you the right start and they're chasing so that helps," Rajala said. "We just needed to play well. We started to play better all week. It's never easy. You think you have the momentum and then they come up with some good shots."

Anderson pulled to within one, at 5-4 in the fifth end, but Rajala responded with two in the sixth maintaining control.

Rajala, Anderson and Tim Meadows, finished tied for first place in the round robin with 5-2 records.

Anderson got the bye to the final, based on the draw shot challenge, the tie-breaker in curling.

Rajala defeated Meadows in a semifinal, 5-2, avenging a loss during the round robin.

In a superb relief job, Phil Daniel stepped in when Rajala's regular lead Paul Madden, had to leave on Friday to coach his daughter's under-13 rink.

Rajala leaves with fond memories of his first visit to St. Thomas.

"I played in a lot of spiels, but I never curled in this club," said Rajala. "A beautiful club and Kevin had the ice perfect. It's so fun when it curls."

Rajala has been a bridesmaid twice at Nationals. In 2013, with Moffatt, Team Rafala lost to Alberta's Wade White in the final and in 2017 with the current roster, falling to Wayne Tallon's New Brunswick rink.






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