CORNER BROOK, N.L. — It’s a pretty basic strategy for Jacob Hersikorn’s Saskatchewan team of late at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Junior Curling Championships.
Just leave the 20-year-old University of Saskatchewan student a double-takeout with his last shot of the game, and he’s going to make it.
For the second straight backs-to-the-wall occasion, Hersikorn delivered the goods in the clutch, removing a pair of Team New Brunswick counters with the game’s final stone to lead Saskatchewan to an 8-6 men’s semifinal win and into tonight’s gold-medal game at 8 p.m. NST/6:30 p.m. EST on TSN/RDS2 against defending champion Braden Calvert of Manitoba at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.
“He’s made a lot of shots when we got in trouble; he clutched up and made those draws, hits, triples and doubles, just to make everything possible to get us where we are,” marvelled Saskatchewan third Cole Tenetuik. “He doesn’t seem to get too flustered. If he misses one, no big deal. He just goes to the next one with the same mindset. Put it in the rearview mirror quickly. He’s always calm.”
Never more so than Sunday afternoon when, after missing his last-rock takeout in the ninth end to set New Brunswick up for a game-tying deuce (it was actually a shot at three but New Brunswick skip Rene Comeau, the 2014 silver-medallist, rolled out of the rings on his hit attempt), Hersikorn settled himself down to navigate the pivotal 10th end.
And, for the second straight game (he made a double-takeout to win Saturday’s third-place tiebreaker against Quebec’s Félix Asselin), he delivered the goods.
“That’s how it’s been turning out lately,” he said with a smile. “It feels pretty normal by now; it’s my third time at the nationals, it’s not as nerve-racking. You just have to think that it’s just another game. If we keep playing like this? We only need one more win and we’re on our way to Estonia.”
Tonight’s winner will represent Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championships, beginning Feb. 28 in Tallinn, Estonia.
Tenetuik said the work of front-end sweepers Brady Kendel and Brandon Leippi (the team is coached by Laurie Burrows) was pivotal on the winning shot.
“Oh, they swept it good,” praised Tenetuik, noting Hersikorn needed to contact half a rock to make the double. “It was pretty much on the nose right out of his hand, and they sucked it out enough so that the double was there.”
Saskatchewan will be bidding to win its first Canadian junior men’s crown since Braeden Moskowy prevailed in 2011 at Calgary; Saskatchewan has won 15 previous Canadian junior men’s championships.
In Hersikorn’s way is Calvert’s defending champion team from Winnipeg, which is aiming to give Manitoba its third straight win at the M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors, and 11th overall.
“They’re a good team, but we have a good team as well,” said Hersikorn. “We just have to focus on each shot and hopefully we come out with the win.”
Meanwhile, Kelsey Rocque’s team from Edmonton, which won the women’s gold medal on Saturday night, announced its alternate for the 2015 World Juniors.
Rocque’s team — third Danielle Schmiemann, second Holly Jamieson, lead Jessica Iles and coach Amanda-Dawn Coderre — will be rounded out by Saskatoon’s Kristen Streifel, who skipped Team Saskatchewan at the 2015 M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors.
This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2015juniors-fr/
The full scoreboard can be viewed at http://www.curling.ca/scoreboard/