After earning a 5-2 record through round robin play, the MacEwan University Griffins women’s curling team found themselves unable to advance to the gold medal championship game at the 2013 CCAA Curling National Championship, after losing a semi-final matchup versus the NAIT Ooks, meaning that they won bronze.
The tournament was set up in such a way that saw the top three teams in the eight-team division advance to the playoffs, with the top-seeded Fanshawe College automatically earning a spot in the finals, while the loser of the semi-final matchup would earn a bronze medal.
After suffering defeat to only the defending national championship winning rink from Fanshawe College, who had earned top spot in the division with a 6-1 record and a win over NAIT, the Ooks found themselves facing a familiar foe in their ACAC rival, the MacEwan Griffins, who had tied the Ooks atop the standings for the final results of the 2013 seasons with an 8-4 record. The Griffins, who had suffered an 8-2 loss at the hands of the Ooks in the ACAC provincial final, had qualified for the national championships alongside fellow ACAC competition Lakeland and Red Deer. MacEwan battled through round robin play with a 5-2 record, sneaking in ahead of the 4-3 Confederation College Thunderhawks rink.
“Competition was very high. The girls probably threw over 500 rocks at this event, and we harken back to one shot in the round robin NAIT game that would have ultimately put us in first place and playing for the final,” said Brian Lupul, assistant coach for the Griffins curling team.
Unfortunately for the Griffins, luck would not play into their favour in the semi-final, and the NAIT Ooks were able to best the rink mostly boasting veterans, winning 10-6.
“We had to string together four in a row to go 5-2; we played really well to keep our winning streak going. We definitely [had momentum] coming into the semi-final,” said Alana Pinkoski, who throws second for her MacEwan rink. “But it was pretty steep competition to get there for sure.”
The 2013 curling season was an up-and-down one for the Griffins women. The team got off to a fantastic start this season, getting out to a 6-0 start after the ACAC Winter Regional. However, following a mid-season tournament in which they finished with a disappointing 2-4 record, the Griffins fell to second place heading into the ACAC Provincial Championship, behind only the NAIT Ooks in the standings.
Although there are only two events in the season prior to the provincial championships, the women’s team plays in the Saville Community Sport Centre’s Under-25 Super League to gain more practice and ice time. The team also practices together on Saturdays for teammates who aren’t partaking in other events.
“We focus on shot-making practice and feeling good about what you are doing,” said Lupul. “In curling, it’s like a chess game, you can lose a game through strategy.”
Whether it’s a mistake in judgment or a missed shot, Lupul said that seemingly mundane events have a big role in end results. “It can make a huge difference,” he noted.
While many should commend the deserving rink for a national bronze medal, Pinkoski’s sentiment after the match was evident.
“It’s definitely disappointing; we came out flat,” she said. “It feels like we held back.”
“For four out of the five of us, it’s our last year. It’s really disappointing,” she continued. “It’ll be up to [skip Krysta Hilker] to get them next year.”
With the four of five women set to move on from their collegiate curling career, it appears that next year a good portion of success will lie in the hands of the young and developing second-year skip Hilker.
“[Hilker] will be back next year . . . But it’s always interesting when we start the new year who will show up from different places,” said Lupul.
The second annual CCAA Curling National Championship also saw representation from Holland College and Sault College from the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association.
The 2014 National Championship will be hosted in Sault Ste. Marie next year — and you can bet that Hilker and the MacEwan women will be looking to score vengeance.