Selena Sturmay and her Alberta rink have earned their place in the New Holland Canadian Junior Curling Championships’ history books.
The team from the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton became just the seventh rink since women’s play started in 1971 to go undefeated at the event as they picked up a 9-6 win over British Columbia’s Sarah Daniels in the championship game Sunday.
“It feels surreal right now,” Sturmay said after leading her province to their fifth women’s title in eight years.
“We were able to get a handle on the ice conditions early this week and I think that was a huge factor in how well our team played. We built up some consistency and got some wins, which led us to this happy outcome.”
Prior to Sturmay’s run, the last rink to go undefeated in the women’s event was an Ontario squad skipped by Rachel Homan in 2010.
The other skips to accomplish that feat were Cathy Overton (Manitoba – 1989), Cathy King (Alberta – 1978), Patricia Crimp (Saskatchewan – 1975), Janet Crimp (Saskatchewan – 1973) and Chris Pidzarko (Manitoba – 1972).
Sturmay, who is joined on her rink by third Abby Marks, second Kate Goodhelpsen and lead Paige Papley, built up a 5-1 lead at the halfway point of the match after stealing points in the third, fourth and fifth ends.
“We were able to capitalize early on some of their misses to get those steals, but they were still playing well and it was a close game all the way,” Sturmay said.
Daniels, who played with third Kayla MacMillan, second Jessica Humphries and lead Sarah Loken, tied the game up at six with a three-ender in the eighth end but Sturmay would get a trifecta of her own in the following frame to move out in front for good.
“We started off strong but we lost it a bit in the middle ends,” Daniels said.
“We knew it wasn’t over there and we were able to tie the game in the eighth, but we missed a couple of shots in the last two ends and they took advantage of that.”
For Daniels, this marks the third time that she’s won a silver medal at the event, as she made it to the final as a skip in 2016 and as a second to Kalia Van Osch in 2014.
“It’s been a great experience here this week and I’m really happy to be able to come back to the juniors,” Daniels said. “There’s a lot that our team can take from this as we look to move up into ladies’ play.”
Sunday’s win for Alberta also marked the second national title for Goodhelpsen, as she was the second for Kristen Streifel’s championship winning rink in 2017.
“This was my last kick at the can in juniors so I felt a little bit of pressure coming into the week,” Goodhelpsen said.
“I was just trying to take in everything that I learned from two years ago and I tried to help the girls with the little things, such as what it’s like to play when the TV lights are on you. Plus, it helped calm my own nerves a little bit.”
Sturmay’s rink will now go on to represent Canada at the 2019 World Junior Curling Championships, which will be held in Liverpool, N.S. next month.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Sturmay, who will also compete for Canada at the 2019 Winter Universiade in Russia in March.
“I’m not going to be in school a lot over the next couple of months, but that’s okay.”
The 2019 New Holland Canadian Juniors will conclude at 3 p.m. with the men’s final between Manitoba’s J.T. Ryan and British Columbia’s Tyler Tardi, who has won the last two national titles and is the reigning world champions.
Tardi and his vice Sterling Middleton enter today’s game with a chance to be the first players to win three Canadian junior titles.
In other news, Curling Canada announced this year’s all-star teams from the women’s event, which is based on the best percentage in each position during the round-robin.
First All-Star Team
- Skip: Mackenzie Zacharias (Manitoba)
- Third: Katie Follett (Newfoundland & Labrador)
- Second: Karlee Burgess (Nova Scotia)
- Lead: Samantha McLaren (Host Team)
Second All-Star Team
- Skip: Sara England (Saskatchewan)
- Third: Lauren Lenentine (Nova Scotia)
- Second: Emily Zacharias (Manitoba)
- Lead: Keira McLaughlin (New Brunswick)