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Saskatchewan to face Alberta in Canadian Mixed final

Saskatchewan, skipped by Jason Ackerman of Regina, advanced to the final of the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship at the Sudbury Curling Club, after defeating New Brunswick’s Sylvie Robichaud of Moncton, 8-3 in Friday’s semi-final.

Ackerman will now face Alberta’s Kurt Balderston of Grande Prairie in Saturday’s 1:30 pm ET final, trying to win a record-tying ninth Mixed crown for his province.

Balderston, who won the 1992 Canadian Mixed when it was held in Grande Prairie, earned a bye to the final after completing the round robin in first place with an 11-2 record. He’ll be attempting to give Alberta a leading 10th title since the championship began in 1964 in Toronto.

And he’ll have additional incentive, since his Grande Prairie squad lost to Ackerman’s Tartan Curling Club foursome, 5-3 in Draw 17.

The semi-final pitted two teams which had finished the 14-team round robin with 9-4 records. Saskatchewan, with hammer, got on the board first in the second end, taking one after a blanked first end. The teams then traded singles through five ends, tied at two.

However, in the sixth, Ackerman managed to count a deuce to go up 4-2, before a fateful seventh end, when New Brunswick gave up a steal of four, as Saskatchewan inherited an insurmountable 8-2 lead.

In that seventh, Robichaud made a double takeout with her first stone to lay two, buried, before Ackerman came back with a short raise double takeout to suddenly lay four. Robichaud was forced to draw the full eight-foot with her last brick but was heavy. New Brunswick subsequently took one in the eighth end before conceding.

It was a tough night for Robichaud, who was trying to become just the second female skip to win the Mixed, joining Calgary’s Shannon Kleibrink, the first to do so in 2004 in Schumacher, Ontario.

Overall, she shot 66 %, well below Ackerman’s 84%. Yet, New Brunswick held a slight 79%-77% team advantage.

Ackerman, a former two-time provincial junior champion, also competed at the 2010 Canadian Mixed in Burlington, Ontario, finishing with a 5-6 mark.

Balderston is playing in his fourth Canadian Mixed, after also competing in 1998 in Owen Sound, Ontario, when finishing third, and in 2001 in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, when winding up in an incredible seven-way tie for first place after the round robin, only to be eliminated in a subsequent tiebreaker.