Ack­er­man rink earns spot in ju­nior na­tion­als

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Sports -

An im­pres­sive month of curl­ing has landed Sky­lar Ack­er­man and her Moose Jaw Ford Curl­ing Cen­tre rink a berth in the New Hol­land Cana­dian Ju­niors na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Ack­er­man and her rink of third Madi­son John­son, se­cond Chantel Hoag and lead Saman­tha McLaren lost 5-3 to Regina’s Rachel Erick­son in the fi­nal of the CurlSask ju­nior women’s pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship in Saska­toon, and nor­mally that would have been the end of their sea­son play­ing at that level.

But the Yukon Ter­ri­tory was un­able to field a team this year, and since na­tion­als are in Prince Al­bert, a se­cond berth was given to Saskatchewan for the pro­vin­cial fi­nal­ist, as well as the cham­pion.

So, after Ack­er­man took a 7-4 win over Wey­burn’s Emily Haup­stein in the cham­pi­onship round semi­fi­nal, they had ac­com­plished a pretty in­cred­i­ble goal. “It’s a lit­tle too bad we couldn’t pull off the fi­nal win and get that green jacket again, but to still go to na­tion­als is go­ing to be a great ex­pe­ri­ence and we’re go­ing to be su­per ex­cited,” Ack­er­man said. The ‘green jacket’ com­ment refers to some­thing that had al­ready hap­pened once a month ear­lier, as the lo­cal rink won the Canada Games pro­vin­cial cham­pi­onship to pick up their first set of green jack­ets of the year.

That win cer­tainly helped when it came to CurlSask provin­cials, since good curl­ing is good curl­ing and can lead to great re­sults no mat­ter the op­po­nent.

“We knew go­ing into the com­pe­ti­tion that we’d have to play well and we set our goals to make it to the fi­nal be­cause we knew that two teams would come out,” Ack­er­man said. “When we made it there we were pretty ex­cited be­cause we knew we were go­ing to na­tion­als, and it’s a U-21 tour­na­ment and we’re still all 17-and-un­der, so it’s a great ac­com­plish­ment for us and we’re all really ex­cited.” Ack­er­man once again had to play a heck of a lot of games to get the job done – the fi­nal marked their third game in a day and fourth since the pre­vi­ous evening. “Yeah, but the easy way is no fun,” Ack­er­man laughed. “That fi­nal game we were pretty tired, but we gave it all we got and I’m really proud of all the girls for dig­ging in and curl­ing really well.” Ack­er­man fin­ished the round robin tied for first place in her round robin pool with a 4-1 record, but the luck of the draw saw to it she’d have to play an ex­tra game in the cham­pi­onship round. She de­feated Saska­toon’s Ash­ley Thevenot 6-1 in that con­test and fol­lowed with an 8-7 ex­tra end win over Saska­toon’s Madi­son Kleiter in the quar­ter-fi­nal to set up the all-im­por­tant na­tional qual­i­fy­ing game with Haup­stein.

Part of all that suc­cess un­doubt­edly came from the pre-tour­na­ment prepa­ra­tion that in ad­di­tion to curl­ing prac­tice in­cluded work­ing with a men­tal coach and nu­tri­tion­ist, a plan of at­tack the team and their coaches will look to keep on track head­ing into na­tion­als.

“It’s a huge help, it gives us a big edge on other teams and it helps us with hav­ing ex­tra fo­cus and ex­tra en­ergy when we’re go­ing into games,” Ack­er­man said.

It all sets the stage for their first crack at the Cana­dian Ju­niors, into which they’ll once again carry lofty as­pi­ra­tions. “Our goal is to make it to the cham­pi­onship round, we have to place top four in our pool and there’s seven in our pool, so we’re just go­ing to try and fin­ish in the top four and make it to the cham­pi­onship round and any­thing can hap­pen from there,” Ack­er­man said.

The New Hol­land Cana­dian Ju­niors are in Prince Al­bert from Jan. 19 to 27.

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