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Moose Jaw's Ackerman rink earns Canada Games spot

Curler Skylar Ackerman and her teammates will represent Saskatchewan at the Canada Winter Games
When Skylar Ackerman put together three straight commanding victories to win a junior women's provincial qualifying bonspiel a couple weeks ago, little did she know it would only be a harbinger of things to come.

And now she and her Moose Jaw Ford Curling Centre rink of third Madison Johnson, second Chantel Hoag and lead Samantha McLaren are off to the Canada Winter Games Feb. 15 to Mar. 3 in Red Deer after winning the Games provincial championship this past weekend.

“This is just amazing, we're so excited we were able to do this after working so hard for it the last four years,” Ackerman said shortly after accepting the Saskatchewan crests, her rink's second such set after winning the U-18 provincial girls title back in 2016.

“This has been our goal for so long and we're so happy to be going to the Canada Games.”

Ackerman posted a 4-1 record through the six-team round robin and then scored three in the eighth end to take an 8-6 win over Weyburn's Emily Haupstein in the championship round semifinal.

That set up a provincial final against Saskatoon's Madison Kleiter, who had defeated Ackerman 7-4 in the opening game of the round robin.

“It didn't really bother us that she'd beaten us before, we knew if we went out there and played our best we would have a chance,” Ackerman said. “We just had to make sure we made our shots and played the best we could.”

That they did, and then some.

Ackerman found herself trailing 5-3 through four ends, but rallied to tie the game with a deuce in the fifth and then stole points in the sixth and seventh to build an 8-5 lead heading into the final end. Kleiter wouldn't go quietly, though, and picked up her three to force extras.

It was there that Ackerman's years of preparation paid off – her rink has become well known for finding ways to win when facing elimination and when it all came down to one end for the biggest win of their careers, they were ready.

“We've played a lot of big games over the years and I think that really helped us in this one,” Ackerman said. “We knew we could win if we played our best and it all worked out.”

Ackerman had a tap back to lay three with her first shot and was nearly perfect on the execution. Kleiter tried to draw for one to force Ackerman to throw her last rock but came up just short, and with that Ackerman was off to Red Deer.

Before her rink does that, though, there's still the unfinished business of the junior women's provincial championship, beginning Dec. 27 in Saskatoon.

“We're just going to go there and play our best and see if we can win that as well,” Ackerman said.

Extra ends... Skylar isn't the first member of her family to compete in the Canada Winter Games. Older brother Carson Ackerman represented Saskatchewan at the 2015 Games in Prince George, where they played for a bronze medal before losing to B.C.