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Barker looking forward to rest of season after qualifying for Viterra Scotties

Moose Jaw rink first to land provincial berth as 2020 Scotties approach
Penny Barker has been through curling playdowns enough times to know that it’s a road that has plenty of speed bumps and potholes along the way – enough that many a solid team has faltered before even getting to provincials.

So Barker and her Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre rink of third Deanna Doig, second Christie Gamble and lead Danielle Sicinski decided to simply forgo all that.

The local foursome won their second-straight Saskatchewan Women’s Curling Tour event this past weekend, defeating Jana Tisdale 6-3 in the championship final of the Saskatoon Nutana spiel. Winning back-to-back SWCT events is nice in and of itself – but the Nutana carried the additional bonus of providing a direct berth into the Viterra Scotties to the winner.

And with that, Barker has become the first rink in the province to qualify for the provincial women’s curling championship.

“It’s always nice to not have to worry about that, we can just worry about practicing and gearing up for provincials now and get ready for that aspect of the picture,” Barker said.

“We played really well, we had a couple of moments on Sunday when things weren’t setting up the way they had earlier in the weekend. The ice got a little trickier later in the weekend, but we were still playing well, we just had a couple of shots not go our way. But we stuck with it, took the opportunities when they came for us and we’re just happy that we came out on top.”

Having things go as well as they have in the early going has been exceptionally positive for Barker, who won the 2017 provincial title with Doig and Sicinski. Gamble replaced Lorraine Schneider last season, and Barker admitted the new look rink went through a few growing pains.

“Last year we had the three of us who had been together for a long time, but we kind of thought of ourselves as a new team since we had a new player,” she said. “So we played well, but just having that extra year has helped us really understand how we operate and I just feel like it’s all coming together. We’re throwing well and now it’s just a matter of getting on the ice and keeping it going. We have that flow to our game and we want to carry that on into the playoffs; we’re feeling really confident how we’re playing, we just want to make sure we’re playing well when it comes to provincials at the end of January.”

Barker will take to the ice in two upcoming spiels: the Boundary Ford Curling Classic in Lloydminster, a 10-end World Curling Tour stop Nov. 22-25, before playing her home event during the Moose Jaw SWCT stop Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

“Then it’s practicing and preparing… we’ll enjoy our time off just to relax, too. So I’ll take the time off, I’m good,” Barker said with laugh.

As could be expected, qualifying for provincials and potentially having a crack at what lies beyond is especially important to Barker and her fellow Saskatchewan rinks.
Having a chance to play the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in front of your own hometown fans will do that.

“I had confidence that however we needed to qualify we would get there, but just to play so well in the last few weekends, knowing we have that direct berth feels great and it’s nice know that with nationals in Moose Jaw, it’s an added incentive,” Barker said.

“Any time you can go is great, but to be able to play nationals in front of a home crowd would be phenomenal, an amazing experience… But the province is going to be tough, there are so many great teams. It’s developed a lot the last little while, the team numbers are down but there are still a lot of quality teams. We knew we were going to have to play well just to get in and I’m so proud of the getting it done early in the season.”

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