First-time Saskatchewan skip eliminated from playoff contention at the Scotties

Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia Team Saskatchewan skip Skylar Ackerman during the afternoon draw against Team Canada at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

by Taylor Shire

Regina Leader-Post

Despite a strong start to the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Team Saskatchewan has been eliminated from playoff contention at the event.

Skylar Ackerman and her Saskatoon Nutana Curling Club team — featuring third Ashley Thevenot, second Taylor Stremick and lead Kailyn Skinner — got out to a 3-0 start to begin the national women’s curling championship with wins over Prince Edward Island (Jane DiCarlo), Manitoba (Kaitlyn Lawes) and Northern Ontario (Krista McCarville) to begin the event.

However, Saskatchewan then lost three straight games to Quebec (Laurie St-Georges), Alberta (Selena Sturmay) and Canada (Kerri Einarson) to put their record at 3-3.

Saskatchewan improved their playoff chances with a win over Newfoundland/Labrador (Stacie Curtis) on Wednesday morning before dropping their final round robin game against B.C. (Corryn Brown) on Wednesday night.

One more win would have secured Saskatchewan the final playoff spot in Pool A, but now they are on the outside looking in after five teams all finished with 4-4 records including Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northern Ontario, Quebec and B.C.

With no tiebreaker games at the Scotties this year and head-to-head results between those teams not able to identify the top seed, the last-stone draw rankings were used. The rankings are calculated by the total distance from the centre of the house of the pre-game throws to determine who receives hammer to begin each round robin game.

Manitoba’s Lawes was ranked No. 1 throughout the event in that category meaning she secured the final playoff spot in Pool A alongside Alberta and Canada who finished with 7-1 records. Alberta secured the top seed due to their round robin win over Canada.

In Pool B, 8-0 Ontario (Rachel Homan), 6-2 Manitoba (Jennifer Jones) and 5-3 Manitoba (Kate Cameron) made the playoff round.

Following a modified playoff format to start, the traditional page playoff system will be used on Saturday with the championship game set for Sunday at 6 p.m.

First appearance

After winning her first provincial title this year after defeating Nancy Martin during the Viterra Scotties in Tisdale, the 22-year-old Ackerman became the youngest skip to ever represent Saskatchewan at the national tournament.

Despite not making the playoffs, it was a solid first appearance at the Scotties for the University of Saskatchewan student, who grew up on a farm outside of Chamberlain and went to school in Moose Jaw. Last year, she served as an alternate with Robyn Silvernagle and her team that went 2-6 at the event and also missed the playoffs.

This year, Ackerman — who didn’t throw a rock during the event in 2023 — finished with a 68 per cent shooting average between her hits and draws, while Thevenot ended at 77 per cent, Stremick at 75 per cent and Skinner at 78 per cent. Overall, the team curled at 75 per cent. Alternate Amber Holland — who skipped Saskatchewan’s last Scotties win in 2011 — didn’t throw a rock during the event this year.