The Emily Haupstein rink of Weyburn took part in the U18 Nationals in Sherwood Park on April 2-7, finishing second in their pool, but losing two close games in the playoffs.
The rink was comprised of skip Emily Haupstein, third Shayla Moore, second Emma Wiens and lead Abbey Johnson. A special part of the week was having third Shayla Moore named to receivethe Fair Play award, an honour that was voted on by the officials of Curl Canada.
The Team Saskatchewan rink played eight games, with five of the eight games played on the arena ice and three in the attached Sherwood Park Curling Club.
The first game was a learning experience for both team PEI and Sask as each were getting a feel for the ice and rocks in the Sherwood Park Curling Club. It was the lowest team shooting percentage for the week for Team Sask at 59 per cent.
The second game was played in the arena versus Northern Ontario, the ultimate gold medal winners of the competition. It was an impressive start for Team Sask who earned hammer through the pre-game draws to the button, thrown by Emily Haupstein and Emma Wiens, each biting the button. Scoring 1 in the first then stealing two in the second end gave Sask a three-point lead. With the score after six ends favouring Sask 6-5, a very well-played seventh end by both teams was the turning point.
Northern Ontario’s intended peel on a Sask guard resulted in a long run back removing the Sask shot rock from the four foot. A hit and roll attempt to regain shot rock was missed by team Sask by the smallest of margins resulting in a hit and stick for three points by Northern Ontario. Sask just fell short in the eighth end after a very nice double take out by the NO skip. Sask’s team shooting percentage was 83 per cent versus NO at 84 per cent, a sign of a very well-curled game.
It was very clear after the first two games against strong opponents that the Haupstein rink could go toe to toe with any of the teams from across the country. Although their record was 0-2, the rink pulled off a dramatic eighth-end steal attempt while tied against the ladies rink from Ontario in their third game. (Ontario would eventually win the silver medal losing to NO in the final)
Ontario played a run back on their last rock in the eighth to remove the Sask shot rock which was completely buried behind cover. The stone rolled out, resulting in a blank end and in the extra end the Haupstein rink made another perfect eight stones to steal the victory. This was the spark the team needed which resulted in a four-game winning streak versus Ontario, Yukon, Nova Scotia, and the Alberta host team.
There were only six shots missed all game by the Sask ladies team in the final round robin game vs Alberta, leading to the 7-1 victory in six ends on the Friday night arena game. The Sask ladies shooting percentage in the game was the highest for the week of any team at the competition at 89 per cent.
With the 14 teams split in two pools of seven, Sask finished with a record of 4-2 taking second spot in Pool A and earned the opportunity to play the third-place team New Brunswick from Pool B in a double knock-out playoff round. The Saturday morning game would see team Sask not as sharp curling 65 per cent as a team vs team New Brunswick’s 64 per cent and finding the ice difficult to read back in the curling rink after playing the previous two games in the arena.
Returning to the arena on the feature sheet C, the Haupstein rink fell just shy of extending their playoff run any further as B.C. made their last shot in eight to count two on a measurement.
The event was spread over a seven days and scheduled many fun activities for the team, beginning with opening ceremonies on April 1 and ending April 7 with a victory party with all teams participating on Sunday evening. It was a fantastic experience for the curling teams, families, friends, and the communities and provinces that were represented at the event.
The girls shared about some of their experiences in a blog on the CurlSask website.
“As our journey at U18 Nationals comes to an end we can reflect on all of the memories made and lessons learned throughout the week. After falling short in the playoff round we were able to take away the positives and enjoyed the last few days in Edmonton. The thrill of playing on arena ice and having the crowd on ice level was an experience of a lifetime that we hope to repeat in the near future,” they said, adding they were able to spend some time with the Saskatchewan boys team as well.
“On Sunday our team and members of Team SK boys enjoyed a day at the West Edmonton Mall. This was followed by the victory party dance held at Millennium Place. It was a great experience to have players from coast to coast celebrate our wonderful sport!” they wrote. “Although the week went by too fast, we have made memories that will last a lifetime.”