The St. Albert Skyhawks aced the final exam at the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association curling championships.
Skip Nic Oake, third David Howes, second Chase Lozinsky and lead Owen Pacholok scored honour marks by winning Saturday’s gold-medal game 5-4 against the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Rams at the St. Albert Curling Club.
“It definitely means a lot. It’s a huge accomplishment. It’s just awesome,” Oake said.” We don’t have a lot of provincial banners that I know of at our school and it’s pretty cool to have one with curling on it.”
The Skyhawks finished 5-1 in the 10-team men’s tournament.
“We just went into it with not a lot of expectations. We were just hoping to have fun,” Oake said.
In pool A, the Skyhawks and Lethbridge tied for first at 3-1 and head-to-head the Oake team defeated the Ayden Whittmire team 6-2.
The rematch started with Lethbridge counting one with hammer in the first end and the next two were blanked before the Skyhawks knotted the score in four and stole two in five when Lethbridge had a rock pick.
Lethbridge recovered to score three in six to lead by one.
“We had a rough end for sure,” said Oake as the Skyhawks started to feel the pressure.
“We were a little nervous because the same thing happened in the NACA playdowns when we played this one team (Aaron Power of the Saville Centre) and we beat them handily the first time we played them and we played them again and they came back a lot tougher,” said Oake of last month’s U18 northern playdowns when the St. Albert juniors blanked Power 7-0 in six ends in the A event and in the B final dropped a 4-3 decision. They also lost the A final 7-2 in seven ends to Ryan Jacques of the Saville Centre.
The Skyhawks bounced back against Lethbridge to blank the seventh and with the hammer in eight nailed down the game-winning deuce.
The key shot in the last end, according to Oake, “was David’s hit on a rock that was probably three quarters buried.”
In the semifinals, the Skyhawks needed an extra end to knock off William Aberhart Orange of Calgary 8-6 for a shot at the provincial banner.
The Skyhawks pulled off a pair of deuces for leads of 4-3 in five and 6-4 in seven.
“It was more tougher than the final because we didn’t play as good,” said Oake of the Skyhawks surrendering three in four to trail by one.
In the metro Edmonton zone playdowns, the Skyhawks slid past the Paul Kane Blues in the B final 9-3 and in the A final lost 8-5 to the Strathcona Lords. It was even at five after seven.
The Lords were unable to field a rink for provincials so the Skyhawks went from the host team to the metro Edmonton reps.
Oake credits the competition in the Tuesday night men’s league in St. Albert for preparing the Skyhawks for provincials. The teenagers are 9-7-2 against a bunch of savvy veterans.
“It definitely did help. It’s fun playing in that league too because the guys all like us unless we’re really beating them. It’s also fun to go up (to the Friendly Giant Lounge) after the game and have conversations with them,” said Oake, a Grade 11 student along with Howes while Lozinsky and Pacholok are in Grade 10.
PK finishes fourth
Paul Kane rinks skipped by Andrew Nowell and Brennin Turner placed fourth as the host teams in their respective men’s and women’s tournaments after Saturday’s losses in the bronze-medal games.
Nowell, third Carson Davis, second Tanner Schnirer and lead Ryan Bolijovac suffered a 6-5 setback against the Orange and Turner, third Anna Smith, second Seraphina Won and lead Emmarie Brown fell 7-6 to the Blessed Sacrament Thunder of Wainwright.
A steal of two in three by the Orange left the Blues trailing 4-1.
The Nowell foursome battled back to count one in six and tied it with a steal of two in seven.
In eight, Nowell attempted a difficult raise into the house that just missed and the Orange scored the winning point.
In the men’s semifinal against Lethbridge, the Blues rallied from a 6-2 deficit after five ends with one in six and steals of two in seven and one in eight. The extra end came down to the last shot as Lethbridge prevailed for the 7-6 decision.
The Blues qualified for the playoffs with a 4-0 record in pool B and the opening game was 8-1 in six ends against the Orange.
In the women’s bronze-medal match, the Blues produced deuces in the first, fifth and seventh ends.
The Thunder stole singles in three and four to lead 4-2 and in eight ran Turner out of rocks.
The 8-2 semifinal loss in seven ends to the Bev Facey Falcons was decided with a steal of three in four to make it 6-1.
Facey advanced to the gold-medal game and lost 9-3 in six ends to the Cochrane Cobras.
In pool B, Cochrane was 4-0 and the Blues were 3-1 after the 8-7 loss to the Cobras in the last round-robin game before the playoffs.
The Turner foursome finished 3-3 overall in the 10-team women’s draw.
In the metro Edmonton zone playdowns, the Blues lost the A final 6-5 to Facey.
EXTRA ENDS: The Skyhawks/Paul Kane host mixed team of Jarrod Sokul and Mary Babichuk of the Skyhawks and Owen Woollam and Quenie Mak of Paul Kane were winless in four games.
The mixed champion was Strathmore Spartans by a score of 10-6 against Barrhead Gryphons.
The Morinville Wolves of the North Central zone were represent by skip Cole Rivard, third Jordan Gurba, second Enoch Dalton and Joel Meunier in the men’s tournament and finished 0-4.
More than 280 spectators checked out the three-day provincials.