Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
FREDERICTON, N.B. – Bouncing back from a tough 6-5 loss to cross-town Edmonton rival NAIT on Saturday morning, the MacEwan Griffins women's curling team closed with a 10-4 win over Holland College to push their record to 3-1 through two days at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national championship.
With that, the rink of skip Ashton Simard, third Erin Wells, second Andie Kurjata and alternating leads Taitan Hagglund and Rebecca Bartz are tied atop the standings with fellow 3-1 teams UAlberta-Augustana and Fanshawe. The top four teams qualify for the semifinals on Monday.
"It's as good as we thought it would be," said women's coach Brian Lupul of their record just past the halfway mark of the round-robin. "Obviously, we want to win everything, but it's good right now."
MacEwan lost to NAIT in the bronze medal game at the nationals a year ago in Leduc and, even though they beat the Ooks three times previously during the 2018-19 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, they fell to them again at nationals on Saturday.
"It was a pretty decent game," said Lupul. "Their skip, who is quite good, played phenomenally well. She got them out of trouble sometimes and saved them on perhaps two occasions where we were close throughout the whole game and that was difference."
MacEwan stayed with the Ooks early and even took a 4-3 lead in the contest after six ends, but when NAIT scored two in the eighth, they forced the Griffins in to taking one in the ninth and capitalized on having the hammer coming home to win. The Ooks are now 2-2 through the first two days.
The Griffins rebounded in the afternoon as they came out with a vengeance, scoring four with the hammer in the opening end against the Charlottetown, P.E.I.-based Holland Hurricanes.
"We jumped all over them 4-0 at the start as they struggled a bit with the weight," said Lupul, noting the ice sheet was a live one, curling at least six-and-a-have feet. "As the game went on and on, they got better and better and started coming back a little bit, but we had too much of a lead on them. Our team played really well."
The Griffins led 7-1 after four ends and the teams pretty much traded points from there as it ended in the ninth when MacEwan stole one to stake an insurmountable six-point win.
MacEwan is in the driver's seat to grab one of the four qualifying playoff spots if they can get through Sunday in good shape. They face Peterborough, Ont.-based Fleming College (0-4) at 9:30 a.m. MT before meeting familiar foe UAlberta-Augustana (3-1), whom they defeated in the ACAC final, at 5:30 p.m. MT.
"We're going into tomorrow playing a team we haven't played yet," said Lupul. "They're 0-4, but the challenge with that is don't underestimate teams that are 0-4.
"We're also going to be playing against a team that gave us a few fits at provincials. That will be a bit of a challenge."