STONEWALL -- It was easily the most important game of Michelle Montford's young and promising curling career.
But in the span of just five ends, what had been a dream trip for her team through this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts turned into the nightmare that was a 10-0 thrashing by Barb Spencer on the final round-robin draw Saturday afternoon.
Montford would have finished first overall in her round-robin pool -- and advanced to Saturday night's coveted Page playoff 1 vs. 1 game -- with a win. But with the combination of her loss to Spencer and a win by Jennifer Jones over Janet Harvey on the same draw, Montford was eliminated entirely.
The sudden turn of events and the way it happened -- Montford raised her own counter out of the house in the fifth end to set up a six-ender for Spencer that prompted handshakes -- was devastating to the 24-year-old skip.
"It's hard to believe we're out," said Montford. "I'd been making quite a few shots during the week and today I just didn't make as many. That's how we gave up some steals and then we were sitting one when I threw that runback and picked out our only rock."
Montford was not the only skip to be eliminated in a tough loss in her final round-robin game. In the other pool, Karen Fallis appeared to have forced a tiebreaker game for second place when she promptly gave up a deuce in the ninth end and then a steal of two more in the 10th to be eliminated by Colleen Kilgallen, who earned first place with the unlikely win.
"I just choked my brains out," Fallis said.
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Manitoba curling fans will want a fresh set of batteries in the remote this afternoon for what will be a televised curling extravaganza.
Beginning at noon, Sportsnet West will be broadcasting the all-Winnipeg final of the Grand Slam of Curling's National live from Port Hawkesbury, N.S., between Jeff Stoughton and Mike McEwen.
And at the same time over on Sportsnet One, they will be televising live the semifinal of the Scotties between Barb Spencer and Colleen Kilgallen.
And then, tune back in at 5 p.m. when Sportsnet One will be televising the final of the Scotties between Jennifer Jones and the winner of today's Spencer-Kilgallen game.