A unique format to this year’s New Holland Canadian Juniors led to a dream scenario for sisters Chantel and Sarah Hoag.
With the Yukon being unable to field a team in the women’s event in Prince Albert, it meant that runner-up from this year’s Saskatchewan playdowns would also get the chance to compete on home ice alongside the provincial champions.
As it turned, Sarah’s Regina-based rink that is skipped by Sara England got to wear the green jacket and Chantel’s team from Moose Jaw that is skipped by Skylar Ackerman earned the right to be the Host Team for the event.
“Both us have goals that we set out for ourselves, but we would have been happy not matter what if just one of us got the chance to play at the nationals,” Sarah Hoag said. “For both of us to reach that goal in the same year with the Host Team taking part in the tournament, it was the perfect situation for us.”
“I think our parents (Derek and Genelle) were more excited than we were because they didn’t have to worry about who to cheer for with both of us in the final,” Chantel Hoag added. “Everyone in our family was excited for us to go to the nationals together and have the chance to cheer us on.”
While the sisters are competing at the Canadian Juniors for the first time, they have both represented their province at other events.
Sarah, 20, was the third on Rachel Erickson’s team at the 2017 Under-18 nationals and was the lead on Haylee Jameson’s rink from the University of Regina at the 2018 U Sports championships.
Chantel, 15, won a silver medal with Ackerman at last year’s Under-18’s and will represent the province next month at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
“Our team kind of knew what to expect having been to the Under-18’s, but it’s so much bigger out here, especially as we have a pretty young team,” Chantel said. “There were some nerves early on, but I was able to talk to my older sister and work those issues out.”
“We’ve bounced some ideas off of one another, but she has a silver medal at the Under 18’s and I don’t, so she might know a little bit more than me some days,” Sarah joked. “I think that being able to be at events like that has helped us out a lot though, especially as we know what it’s like to play on arena ice.”
Following pool play Tuesday, Saskatchewan had a 4-2 record and was heading to the championship pool, while the Host Team was off to the seeding pool with a 1-5 mark.
Although the siblings won’t be able to play against each other this week, the chance to be at the Canadian Juniors in the same year is one they won’t soon forget.
“Being on different teams in the same province can be though, so for us to share this experience in the same year has been fantastic,” Sarah said.
“To have my big sister playing and all of our family here cheering us on has been amazing and it’s really added to this whole experience,” Chantel added.