Erickson and Ackerman rinks heading to Prince Albert

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The Skylar Ackerman and Rachel Erickson rinks pose after they squared off in the Saskatchewan junior women's provincial final Monday night.

Saskatchewan curling fans will have two rinks to cheer for during the women’s event at the 2019 New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Champions in Prince Albert next month.

Rachel Erickson’s rink from the Regina Callie will be wearing the green jacket from Jan. 19-27 at the Art Hauser Centre and the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club following a 5-3 win over Moose Jaw’s Skylar Ackerman in the junior provincial final
at the Saskatoon Sutherland Curling Club Monday.

“It’s still feels a little weird when you realize that you get to play for Saskatchewan in your home province,” Erickson said. “With it being so close to where we are from, there’s going to be a lot of support for us, which will be a bit of a different experience.”

The Ackerman squad will also be at the event as the “Host Team”, which will be replacing the Yukon at this year’s event as they were unable to field a team.

“I love this group of girls so much,” Ackerman said. “We’ve worked so hard to try and achieve our goals, and now we have a chance to go to the nationals.”

While Erickson, second Sarah Hoag and lead Jade Goebel will be heading to the Canadian Juniors for the first time, fourth stone thrower Sara England will be making her third straight trip to the event.

England, who is the daughter of the late Sandra Schmirler, was the third on Kaitlyn Jones’ rink in 2017 and skipped her own foursome last year.

“I was playing university curling in Regina when their coach (Jamie Schneider) let me know that they were looking for someone to join their team,” England said.

“This is my last year in juniors and I wanted to join an elite level rink that was going for the green jacket. Luckily enough, we were able to do that.”

While England was joining a squad that had won the U18 provincial title two years ago, it took them a little bit to get rolling this week.

They dropped their opening game by a score of 6-4 to Moosomin’s Elliot Martens Thursday night, but hit their stride after that with solid team play as they posted a 6-1 record on their way to the title.

“We missed some shots that we shouldn’t have in our first game and that gave us some extra motivation to play better throughout the week,” Erickson said.

“Being consistent is something that we are really going to focus on as we get ready to head to Prince Albert. We made a lot of the hard shots this weekend at the provincials, but now we need to make sure that we can make the easy ones.”

The road to the final was a long one for the Ackerman rink, which also includes third Madison Johnson, second Chantel Hoag and lead Samantha McLaren.

They topped Saskatoon Sutherland’s Ashley Thevenot in a 6-1 affair Friday, made a dramatic runback in the 10th end to beat Saskatoon Sutherland’s Madison Kleiter in an 8-7 battle in the quarter-final Saturday morning and followed that up with a 7-4 win over Emily Haupstein of Weyburn in the semifinal later in the day.

“There was a lot of pressure in every game,” Ackerman said. “There were a lot of great teams here this week and it was one of those competitions that anyone could have won.

“We just won the Canada Winter Games playdowns in North Battleford a couple of weeks ago and that gave us a lot of confidence. We’ve been trending up as the season has gone on and hopefully that continues for us in Prince Albert.”

Rylan Kleiter will be joining the Erickson and Ackerman rinks at the nationals, as his Saskatoon Sutherland foursome won their third straight provincial men’s junior title Monday in six ends over clubmate Tyler Camm by a score of 13-4.