Saskatchewan, skipped by Trish Paulsen of Saskatoon, won the women’s final of the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors Saturday evening, stealing a deuce in the 10th end for a nail-biting 6-4 victory over Alberta’s Nadine Chyz of Calgary.
Just as she had done in her 7-6 semi-final win earlier in the day against Manitoba’s Breanne Meakin of Winnipeg, when stealing for the win, Paulsen forced Chyz to make a shot with her final stone…a soft hit and roll to the button.
But Chyz hit it too thin and rolled too far, allowing the ‘Green Machine’ and their fans to celebrate wildly at the North Hill Community Curling Club.
“We pulled it off, that’s all I can say,’ said the 20-year-old Paulsen, a Human Resources student at the University of Saskatchewan. “We played strong in both games. We were oddly calm coming into this game after the semi-final. That was a tight game, a nail-biter, and we ended up stealing, so we knew we could do it again in this game.
“Oh, it’s surreal. It doesn’t feel like it’s real. The moment she let go of her rock I knew she was tight. It was a tough rock to watch her throw because it’s not in your hands anymore. It’s exactly like this morning. We’re like, OK, whatever she does, that’s how it’s going to be. And it ended up in our favour.”
The final proved a far different game than Thursday night’s round robin encounter between the two, when Chyz prevailed 9-3 to claim first place and a bye to the final, with an 11-1 record.
That meant Paulsen finished second at 9-3 and had to face Manitoba in the semi-final. After that victory, the Nutana Curling Club foursome of third Kari Kennedy, second Kari Paulsen and lead Natalie Yanko were pumped for the final…and it showed early.
Saskatchewan enjoyed a 3-2 lead after seven ends, but Chyz hit and stayed for two in the eighth for a 4-3 lead after the teams had traded hits for most of the end.
It appeared the host province was taking control. In the ninth end, Paulsen, facing two Alberta counters, hit for one to tie the affair at four, but Chyz had the hammer in the 10th.
With several stones in the house, Alberta second Jessie Scheidegger had a hog line violation, but Saskatchewan didn’t capitalize at the time.
However, after a failed Paulsen double with her first, followed by a missed attempt by Chyz to peel a guard, nosing it instead, Paulsen hit to lay two, with Chyz needing a hit and roll for the win. Alas, it wasn’t to be for the home side.
While it was the first Canadian junior championship for the players, it was the third such Canadian junior title for coach Bob Miller, who directed his daughters Stefanie Lawton and Marliese Kasner to wins in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
It was also a leading 11th Canadian junior women’s title for Saskatchewan since the championship began in 1971, but the first since skip Mandy Selzer won in Thunder Bay in 2006.
Paulsen’s team will now represent Canada at the 2011 world junior curling championships in Perth, Scotland, March 5-13. Canada has won a leading eight world junior women’s titles since 1988, the latest one by Marliese Kasner in 2003 in Flims, Switzerland.
“Oh my God, it’s going to feel amazing (to wear a Maple Leaf in Perth),” continued Paulsen. “I’m so excited. That was our goal the whole season. We wanted to come here, win gold, and that’s what we did. So we’re really happy.
“I’m up for it (worlds in Scotland). Definitely up for it. We know how Marliese went through in 2003, and we basically took the same path she did. We’re excited, we know we can do it, and we’re just going to keep on rolling.”
Said a disconsolate Chyz, “We felt really comfortable being tied and having the hammer. I just wanted to have a shot in the end. The girls were playing well and we knew that once we got that two, we were set up pretty well, and especially when we got the force in the ninth.
“I guess it wasn’t left as pretty as you’d want to with quite a few rocks in play. But there was a shot there. We had a good week here and a good season leading up to it. It’s kind of disappointing because you don’t get the outcome you want, but we still have to be happy with how we played.”
The men’s semi-final on Sunday at 10:30 am MT features Ontario’s Mat Camm of Ottawa against Newfoundland/Labrador’s Colin Thomas of St. John’s.
The winner will then face Saskatchewan’s unbeaten Braeden Moskowy of Regina, who went 12-0 in the round robin, in the M&M Meat Canadian Juniors final at 5:30 pm MT/7:30 pm ET, live on TSN.
The last time Saskatchewan won both men’s and women’s titles was in 2003 when Marliese Kasner and Steve Laycock emerged victorious in Ottawa. Both would also go on to world junior titles in Flims, Switzerland.