Sports

Mann draws on 'happy memories' at Scotties

By Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun

Lauren Mann has helped Quebec reel off six consecutive wins after losing its first two matches. (The Canadian Press)

Lauren Mann has helped Quebec reel off six consecutive wins after losing its first two matches. (The Canadian Press)

ST. CATHARINES, ONT. —  - 

Lauren Mann would love to say she draws some of her inspiration at the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts from a part of her life that didn’t involve a tragedy.

But Mann, the vice-skip on Eve Belisle’s Quebec rink, has only good memories when she thinks of her brother, Adam Prashaw, who died last January at the age of 22 after suffering an epileptic seizure in a hot tub and drowned.

Mann was competing in the Quebec provincials at the time and had to leave the tournament.

“Having not played in the Quebec final, I didn’t want to live the rest of my life knowing that I did not come back to the Scotties because of that,” an emotional Mann said on Wednesday.

“So I’m able to think of happy memories and make the best of it when I curl. It’s something that is in my thoughts.”

The women representing Quebec have put themselves in contention through Draw 13 at the Meridian Centre, compiling a 6-3 record. On Wednesday, Quebec started with a 7-2 thrashing of the Northwest Territories in the morning draw before losing 6-5 against Canada in the afternoon.

Quebec had reeled off six consecutive wins after losing its first two matches earlier in the week. Belisle, who spent three years in Australia before returning to Quebec, is competing at the Scotties for the first time since 2010.

“It’s working because we’re such a new team that we have no choice but to make very small, specific, game-related goals,” Mann said. “So our goals aren’t ‘Let’s win whatever, let’s place in such a spot.’

“It’s ‘Okay, let’s make sure we are getting our times, we are communicating x-y-z on our shots.’ It’s really very specific and that is what we are focusing on during our games rather than a bigger goal.”

Quebec has not won the women’s national title since 1975, when the tournament was known as the MacDonald Lassie Championship. It has not participated in the final since 2004, when Canada’s Colleen Jones won her fourth consecutive crown, beating Marie-France Larouche 7-4.

Mann was Quebec’s skip at the 2015 Scotties in Moose Jaw and ended with a record of 3-8.

Quebec’s round-robin matches conclude on Thursday when the team faces Ontario in the morning draw and British Columbia at night.

“We know there is nothing that is a guarantee right now,” Mann said. “I expected us to do well this week because of the personalities on the team. I think we really gel well, we bounce back. We are all a little bit hard on ourselves when we are missing (shots).

“But it doesn’t linger with us. We have our moment and move on. Because we are all capable of doing that, we know when we get down, we are going to come back and we have confidence in each other. That has made a world of difference.”

ENGLOT IN ANTICIPATION

Michelle Englot isn’t putting on blinders. She knows what’s coming on Thursday night.

“It’s going to get awfully loud in here,” the Manitoba skip said when she was asked if she is ready to play the villain against Ontario. “But I think we have picked up a few fans along the way. We know we need to beat B.C. (Thursday morning) and it will come down to (possibly) being a first-place battle against Ontario, and that is exactly where we want to be, right?”

Englot’s rink got through Wednesday with relative ease, improving to 8-1 thanks to an 8-3 afternoon victory against Nova Scotia and a 10-2 win versus Prince Edward Island in the morning draw.

Against Nova Scotia, the game was tied 1-1 after three ends when Englot scored three in the fourth for the decisive points.

A native of Saskatchewan, Englot has represented her home province eight times in the women’s national championship, and this marks the first time she is wearing Manitoba’s colours.

“Maybe it just feels like a fairy tale (because) that I’m not feeling the pressure too much,” Englot said. “I am always pretty calm when I play. I don’t show emotions.”

ON MALLETT’S SHOULDERS

An emotional Marla Mallett rather succinctly summed up what has been a nightmarish Scotties for her B.C. rink.

“Worst week of my life,” the B.C. skip said after she was beaten 11-5 by Alberta on Wednesday morning.

“It’s frustrating, because I’ve never played so badly. I’ve let the girls down. I can’t explain it.

“The hardest thing is the girls worked so hard and we get here and I’m supposed to finish for them and I’m not finishing.”

The loss in Draw 11 dropped B.C. to 0-8.

But there were some smiles following the afternoon draw, when Mallett finally got her first win, beating Saskatchewan 7-6.

B.C. has games against Manitoba and Quebec on Thursday before heading home.

In losing to Mallett, Saskatchewan fell to 0-7 with a match against the Northwest Territories on tap Wednesday night.

No team has gone winless at the tournament since 2000, when the Northwest/Yukon Territories rink, skipped by Sandra Hatton, finished with a record of 0-11.