Highland Curling Club team beats Regina’s team Howard 4-2 to earn national title shot
Regina’s team Ackerman of the Highland Curling Club is this year’s provincial mixed curling champion, after beating team Howard 4-2 Sunday afternoon at Prince Albert’s Golf and Curling Club.
“(It’s) pretty sweet,” skip Jason Ackerman said of the win. “There’s lots of pedigree on that team with Ashley Howard and her family, and they’re great people and great curlers. So we’re really fortunate today.”
He added that he and his wife, Colleen, lost three finals prior to the five-day tournament in P.A., “So to get over the hump here and back to nationals is a good feeling.” The last time he curled in a national championship was in 2012, he said.
To get to Sunday’s win, Ackerman and his team held the lead throughout the game, taking a 3-0 lead through four ends of play.
The fourth end was particularly important, because Ackerman stole two from Howard to go up 3-0, after Howard blanked the second and third ends, despite having the hammer.
Howard also plays out of Regina’s Highland Curling Club, so the Sunday final resembled a chess match, Ackerman said.
“It’s a little bit of cat and mouse; it’s all bout jockeying for position, all about having hammer in the even ends and hopefully having last rock coming home.
“That’s kind of the key, and we did a good job of controlling the scoreboard. So it worked out our way,” he said.
His rink forced Howard to get a single point in the fifth end, which gave his team the hammer for the sixth end.
They capitalized on that with another point, going up 4-1.
Howard’s team managed a single point in the seventh end to cut the lead in half, but that was as close as her team got; they conceded the eighth and final end after they found they didn’t have enough rocks to tie the score.
The game ended 4-2 in Ackerman’s favour.
Overall, Ackerman commended his team for its ice-reading abilities throughout the tournament. “It was kind of the key. We were all really engaged, and it really helped when you got in the hack, you could really commit to hitting the broom,” he said.
The alternative, he explained, would have been, “not trusting where the broom is; you’re not trusting you’re throw and that’s when funny things happen. I think that contributed to the whole entire week; it was a real team effort this whole weekend.”
Along with Jason, his team consisted of lead Colleen Ackerman, second Mitch Criton and third Deanna Doig.
The other key to his team’s success at the provincial tournament was to keep their emotions in check.
“Don’t get too happy, don’t get too low; just be as neutral as you can be and just keep believing in one more shot and that’s what we did.”
To make the final game, Ackerman beat Team Heather, out of Saskatoon Nutana, 5-1 on Sunday morning.
In their quarter-final game, the Regina team beat team Kitz of Oxbow 5-2.
Regina’s team Howard consisted of skip Ashley Howard, lead Scott Deck, second Ashley Williamson and third Daniel Selke.
As for Prince Albert teams, the Bibby rink was knocked out of contention on Saturday night in the quarterfinals. Team Heather won the game 9-5 through eight ends of play.
“We had no expectations of making the final, so to finish where we did, I’m quite happy about it,” skip Brad Bibby said. “We knew that going in, we’d be in tough, and I thought we played well.”
Looking at his team’s quarterfinal game, the skip said, “They were able to capitalize on our mistakes. They got a couple of three-enders. If we had given up two, that would have been ok, but that extra point really hurt us, and that put us behind the eight ball going into the six, seventh and eighth ends.”
After five ends, Heather was up 6-4 on Bibby, earning all of its points in two three-point ends (two and four).
“On the sixth end, we gambled, and we really forced them to a tough shot, and we were able to steal one,” Bibby explained. That made the score 6-5.
“On the seventh end, we got them into a lot of trouble, where we had to try and get aggressive. So we had a lot of rocks in paly. I don’t think they wanted that many rocks in play, but they were able to make the shot and get their one.” That allowed Heather’s rink to go up 7-5.
In the eighth end, Heather scored two points, by running Bibby’s team out of rocks, he said.
Final score 9-5.
Despite the loss, Bibby said he was happy with his team’s play.
He was even more impressed with the play of the younger curlers at the tournament, underscoring that curling in Saskatchewan has a bright future with the plethora of younger curlers getting involved.
Along with Brad, team Bibby consisted of lead Pat Bibby, second Chad Gareau and third Sherry Just.
Team Korte also represented Prine Albert. It consisted of skip Bruce Korte, lead Robyn Despins, second Jayden Shwaga and third Brett Barber.
The Korte rink also lost in the quarterfinals, 6-5 to team Kendel of Saskatoon Nutana on Saturday evening.
The 2019 Canadian Mixed Curling Championship will be played from Nov. 5 to Nov. 10, 2018 in Winnipeg, Man.