Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kozak claims final berth in Neepawa

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THE 16-team lineup for the 2009 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Neepawa is finally set.

Brandon's Tina Kozak defeated clubmate Stacey Fordyce 7-6 at Pembina Curling Club Sunday night in the final of the competitive berth division of the 85th annual MCA Women's Bonspiel.

The victory earned Kozak the final available berth into the Scotties, which will take place Feb. 4-8.

Kozak's victory capped off an eventful weekend that saw the three pre-bonspiel favourites -- Calleen Neufeld, Kaileigh Strath and Kerri Flett -- all fail to live up to expectations.

Strath got the furthest, dropping a heartbreaking 7-6 loss to Kozak in the semifinals.

The win for Kozak represents a homecoming of sorts. She's a native of Neepawa.

In the competitive non-berth division of the bonspiel, Duluth's Amy Wright won the A-side, Terry Ursel of Plumas won the B-side and Morden's Chelsea Carey won the C-side.

The winners of the recreational events were Granite's Loretta Ross, Springfield's Jacquelyn Little, Granite's Angel Therien and Thistle's Heather Ruby.

Kozak's victory means attention will now turn to the provincial Scotties, where 16 teams will be attempting to join Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones at the Canadian Women's Curling Championship next month in Victoria.

Jones already has her nationals berth as the defending Canadian champion and her absence from the provincials this year represents a rare opportunity for other teams to reach the national stage.

Jones has three Manitoba titles, two Canadian titles and one world title in just the last four years and has utterly dominated all comers from Manitoba.

The final field that will compete in Neepawa will boast six skips who've previously won Manitoba women's titles -- Chris Scalena, Karen Rosser, Barb Spencer, Janet Harvey, Karen Porritt and Maureen Bonar.

The rest of the field looks like this: Kozak, Ursel, Carey, Fort Rouge's Kristy Jenion and Holly Scott, Rossmere's Angela Wickman, East St. Paul's Kim Link, Brandon's Lisa Blixhavn, Bowsman's Linda Stewart and Burntwood's Charlene Norquay.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 19, 2009 C4

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