Alberta wins at home

Alberta 7 British Columbia 6 The most excitable and animated skip in the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts was also the most successful.

Scotties Tournament of Hearts champions team Alberta with the trophy after their win over team B.C. Sunday afternoon. From the left are skip

Alberta 7 British Columbia 6

The most excitable and animated skip in the 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts was also the most successful.

Alberta skip Heather Nedohin kept her emotions under control en route to a 7-6 win over Kelly Scott of British Columbia in the Scotties championship final Sunday afternoon in front of 5,900 curling fans at the Enmax Centrium.

“My heart was pounding enough that I needed to control my emotions,” said Nedohin, whose team caught fire midway through the week, earned a playoff spot and then defeated Marie-France Larouche in the 3-4 Page playoff game Saturday morning and downed Jennifer Jones and her Manitoba rink 6-5 in the evening semifinal, winning on a measure in an extra end.

“We had an outstanding run in the playoffs. We held our composure and we took the energy from the crowd and just kept going with it,” said Nedohin. “How can you not feed off the crowd? It didn’t matter if we were on or off the ice this week, people were just saying ‘keep it going, believe in yourselves, we’re behind you’, and what else do you do, you just keep trusting yourselves. I’m going to say we were all stars all the way through.”

Alberta third Beth Iskiw was a second-team all-star based on statistics posted through the round-robin and stepped up big-time in the championship game. Iskiw shot a game-high 93 per cent and set the pace early with a double kill in the first end.

The Alberta foursome was up 2-1 through three ends and stole a single in the fourth when Scott’s last rock — a takeout attempt that was right on line — caught something just before the hog line and changed course.

“That was a two-point swing. We would have got a point and instead they got a point,” said Scott.

“That was big because they were two up coming home.”

Actually, Alberta was the better team almost from beginning to end, finishing with a shooting percentage of 87 per cent as opposed to 78 for B.C.

“I thought we played stellar all week,” said Nedohin, whose team finished fourth in round-robin play with a 7-4 record before catching fire in the playoffs. “There was a couple of times that skips made big shots against us to win and that’s the nature of the game. But overall I was really impressed with how we played as a team. We were determined and persistent and focused on just making shots.”

B.C. got two back in the fifth when Nedohin wrecked on a guard with her final stone, leaving Scott with a gentle tap-back for her deuce, but the sixth frame featured the turning point in the contest when the Alberta skip executed a nifty hit for three by squeezing a B.C. counter off the button.

“Thankfully the rock came up a little bit . . . that spot on the ice was straight and it was a big three (points),” said Nedohin.

From there, Scott was forced to take one in the seventh end with a final-rock draw to the button. Nedohin hit for one in the eighth and B.C. had to settle for a single in the ninth when Scott failed to execute a freeze attempt with her first rock.

The outcome never seemed in doubt playing the 10th, and Nedohin ended the contest with a last-rock takeout that left B.C. with one point short of a tie.

The Scotties championship final win was the first for an Alberta team in 14 years and earned Nedohin — who was on the 1998 team with skip Cathy Borst that finished third at the worlds — and her supporting cast of Iskiw, second Jessica Mair and lead Laine Peters a berth in the world championship March 17-25 at Lethbridge.

“That surprised the heck out of me knowing the (Shannon) Kleibrinks and (Cheryl) Bernards and all of the wonderful rinks that have been in front of us,” said Nedohin, in reference to the Alberta dry spell at the Scotties. “I’m shocked that it was me and our team, but I’ll take it.

“I can’t stress how well the team played, we played well all weekend. To wear the Maple Leaf in Alberta . . . it’s just going to be outstanding. Canadian fans are fabulous and we knew we’ll get great ice. I’m truly looking forward to it.”

Nedohin was also named most valuable player of the 2012 Scotties. Iskiw might have deserved the award based on her playoff performance, but insisted that her skip was a deserving winner.

“Heather played really well all week and stepped it up even more the last few games,” said Iskiw. “Stats don’t necessarily reflect how things are going. She was unbelievable the last several games. When we needed her to make a shot, she came through for us.”

Nedohin’s team is also eligible for $144,000 of Sport Canada funding over a two-year period, as well as $40,000 from Own The Podium to cover training and competition costs, and will also be paid $10,000 to wear the crest of Scotties sponsor Kruger at the world championship.

“As a stay-at-home mom I think I’m quite happy about that,” said Nedohin. “And as a woman in sports I’m ecstatic. Holy sugarballs, I didn’t know that.”

For Nedohin, Sunday’s triumph marked the second time she captured a national title in Red Deer. As Heather Godberson, she skipped the Alberta entry to a gold medal in the 1996 world junior championship.

“Red Deer is definitely a warm spot for me and always will be,” said the winning skip, who expects to get support from Central Alberta at the worlds in Lethbridge.

“It’s just a few-hour drive from here. I think we’ll see a good showing,” said Nedohin.

Scott admitted that they were clearly the second-best team on the Centrium ice Sunday afternoon.

“We came in today saying let the best team win, and that was them today, for sure,” said the B.C. skip.

Scott didn’t get much support from third Sasha Carter, who was ill earlier in the week and shot just 69 per cent in the final.

“I think we all struggled,” said Scott. “The toughest part about losing is that we weren’t at our best today. We were very disappointed in how we came to play.”

But based on B.C.’s play heading into the final . . .

“I had no complaints whatsoever,” said Scott. “I’m pleased that we got ourselves into this position. We battled hard through the whole week. You can’t say they (Alberta) were a better team or we were a better team. It was who played better today, and it was them.”

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