If you’re looking for a rink with Moose Jaw connections to cheer for, you’ll have no shortage of opportunity at the Viterra Scotties provincial women’s curling championship this week.
Four of the 12 teams taking part in the tournament in Estevan are skipped by either current or former Moose Jaw-based players, many with some pretty impressive resumes.
Leading the way, of course, is the defending champion Penny Barker foursome out of the Moose Jaw Curling Centre.
Barker and her rink of third Christie Gamble, second Jenna Enge and lead Danielle Sicinski have enjoyed an absolutely stellar season in provincial competition, winning the last three events they entered, including the Players’ Championship two weekends ago.
Barker enters as the top seed and has a bye through the first round of the double-knockout tournament. They’ll take on the winner of Saskatoon Sutherland’s Jessica Mitchell and Regina Highland’s Ashley Howard in their first game during the 9 a.m. draw Thursday.
Joining Barker as one of the top-ranked teams for the event is Moose Jaw’s Skylar Ackerman, now playing out of the Saskatoon Sutherland. Ackerman and her rink of third Kya Kennedy, second Taylor Stremick and lead Kaylin Skinner got their season off to a great start and racked up plenty of points on the team ranking system, sitting in the top four much of the campaign. They ended up as the Scotties third-seed and head into the tournament with an appearance the Player’s Championship final -- where they took Barker to the last shot before falling -- as a momentum builder.
Ackerman has a bye through the first round and faces the winner of Regina Highland’s Brooklyn Stevenson and North Battleford’s Robyn Silvernagle at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Former Moose Jaw skip, two-time Scotties provincial champion and 2011 national Scotties champion Amber Holland also finds herself with a first-round bye. Holland and her Kronau-based rink of third Kim Schneider, second Karlee Kendel and lead Deb Lozinski were the fourth qualifier through the CTRS rankings, with a steady season of success seeing a fifth-place finish at the elite Red Deer Curling Classic her top showing of the campaign.
Holland takes on the winner of Saskatoon Nutana’s Sherry Anderson and Saskatoon Sutherland’s Madison Kleiter -- who has former Moose Jaw curler Chantal Hoag at third -- in their first game 9 a.m. Thursday.
The road to the Viterra Scotties wasn’t quite as easy for former Moose Jaw skip Cindy Ricci, who as Cindy Street won a junior provincial title and provincial Scotties title. Ricci and her Estevan rink of third Kristy Johnson and lead Natalie Bloomfield -- second to be named -- earned one of four spots out of the Last Chance qualifier at the beginning of the month.
Ricci opens the event against Lorraine Schneider during the 7 p.m. draw Wednesday, with the winner there advancing to face Martensville’s Nancy Martin.
Ricci and Holland were recently back on stage together, as their 1992 Canadian junior championship team was inducted into the Moose Jaw and District Sports Hall of Fame back in October.
If that isn’t enough Moose Jaw connections for you, Schneider played second for Barker in their 2017 Scotties win, and Martin’s coach, Gerry Adam, was second on Pat Simmons’ Tankard-winning teams in 2007 and 2008.
The Viterra Scotties ‘A’ final is set for 3 p.m. on Friday, the ‘B’ qualifier for 10 a.m. on Saturday and two ‘C’ qualifiers for 3 p.m. Saturday.
The Page playoffs 1-2 and 3-4 games are set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by the semifinal at 10 a.m. Sunday and championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday.
You can follow along with all the results, including live streaming throughout the week, at www.saskcurl.ca.