Alberta Women Capture Gold at 2017 Canadian Junior Championships

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Team Alberta skip Kristen Streifel raises her arms in victory after clinching the 2017 Canadian Junior Women's Curling Championship with a 5-3 win over Ontario Sunday morning at the Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

by Al Cameron, Curling Canada
Photos by Christian J. Stewart, ISN

January 29, 2017, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Kristen Streifel won’t be making her first trip to South Korea, but this one will last a little longer than the few hours she spent at the airport in Seoul.  The 21-year-old Team Alberta skip will be headed back to South Korea next month — this time as the skip of Team Canada, after winning the women’s gold-medal game Sunday morning, defeating Ontario 5-3 at the 2017 Canadian Junior Women’s Curling Championships at the Archie Browning Sports Centre in Esquimalt.

With killer eyes and a killer focus, Team Alberta skip Kristen Streifel made her shots when it mattered, leading her team to a 5-3 win over Ontario to capture the 2017 Junior Women's National Championship (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
With killer eyes and a killer focus, Team Alberta skip Kristen Streifel made her shots when it mattered, leading her team to a 5-3 win over Ontario to capture the 2017 Junior Women’s National Championship (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Streifel stole the winning points in the 10th end when Ontario skip Hailey Armstrong’s last-gasp draw-tap attempt to remove an Alberta stone buried at the top of the button was heavy.

Team Ontario's Lindsay Dubue (left) and Grace Holyoke (right) guide Marcia Richardson's rock down the ice during the Championship final against Alberta on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Ontario’s Lindsay Dubue (left) and Grace Holyoke (right) guide Marcia Richardson’s rock down the ice during the Championship final against Alberta on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

With the win, Streifel, vice-skip Chantele Broderson, second Kate Goodhelpsen, lead Brenna Bilassy and coach Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent will wear the Maple Leaf at the 2017 VoIP Defender World Junior Championships, Feb. 16-26 in Gangneung, South Korea.

Team Alberta's  Kate Goodhelpsen delivers a rock during the Championship final against Alberta Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Alberta’s Kate Goodhelpsen delivers a rock during the Championship final against Alberta Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“Oh my goodness, words cannot describe the feeling,” said an ecstatic Streifel, in her first Canadian juniors skipping Alberta after three previous trips skipping Saskatchewan “I’ve dreamt of this moment for so many years, and to have it happen this week is just incredible.”

Ontario's Grace Holyoke calls out the line on a shot during Sunday's final against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Ontario’s Grace Holyoke calls out the line on a shot during Sunday’s final against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was a nailbiter to the very end; five of the first seven ends were blanked, with Ontario — unbeaten entering the final — scoring a deuce in the third while Alberta matched it in the sixth.

Alberta third Chantele Broderson (left) and Brenna Bilassy (right) work a shot down the ice during Sunday's final against Team Ontario (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Alberta third Chantele Broderson (left) and Brenna Bilassy (right) work a shot down the ice during Sunday’s final against Team Ontario (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Then the teams traded singles in the eighth and ninth ends, giving Ontario the hammer tied up coming home — a scenario, ironically, that the Albertans had practised for regularly leading up to the Canadian Juniors.

Ontario skip Hailey Armstrong keeps a close eye on a shot during the women's final Sunday against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Ontario skip Hailey Armstrong keeps a close eye on a shot during the women’s final Sunday against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“Oh, yes — that’s what Monday practices are for,” said Streifel with a smile. “We don’t mind that scenario. Actually, we prefer it sometimes. We like to put a little pressure on the other teams, and we know that if we just focus on placing our rocks in the right spot, the rest will take care of itself. It was a battle in the 10th end, that’s for sure.”

Team Alberta's Brenna Bilassy (right) and Chantele Broderson (left) work hard to guide a stone down the ice during Sunday's final against Team Ontario (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Alberta’s Brenna Bilassy (right) and Chantele Broderson (left) work hard to guide a stone down the ice during Sunday’s final against Team Ontario (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was indeed, and the tide turned for Alberta got a rock buried at the top of the button behind cover, and Streifel was able to add a second guard with her final delivery, leaving Armstrong with a next-to-impossible shot to salvage the winning point.

Team Ontario third, Grace Holyoke made some incredible shots down the stretch in her team's eventual 5-3 loss to Alberta in the Championship final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Ontario third, Grace Holyoke made some incredible shots down the stretch in her team’s eventual 5-3 loss to Alberta in the Championship final (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“I think it was a really well-played game; we just had a couple misses that were kind of crucial,” said Armstrong, whose silver-medal team was rounded out by third Grace Holyoke, second Lindsay Dubue, lead Marcia Richardson and coach Bill Rogers. “The shot at the end was really hard; it was overburied. But we gave it our all at the end. This team has been together for one year, and I think we did pretty well, coming second and going 10-and-1.”

Team Ontario fans celebrate after scoring key points in the final against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Ontario fans celebrate after scoring key points in the final against Team Alberta (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Streifel will be making her second trip to the world juniors; she was an alternate for Alberta’s Kelsey Rocque’s gold-medal team in 2015 in Estonia.

St. Laurent, meanwhile, coached Rocque to gold in both 2014 and 2015 and will be making her third trip to the World Juniors, where Canada will be pursuing its fourth consecutive gold after Mary Fay won last year in Switzerland.

Team Ontario's Marcia Richardson delivers a stone during the final against Team Alberta on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Ontario’s Marcia Richardson delivers a stone during the final against Team Alberta on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Before then? Suffice it to say, there will be some schoolwork on the agenda for Streifel and company.

“That’s going to be interesting,” said Streifel, a kinesiology student. “University has been put a little bit on the back burner this week. Hopefully we can get some midterms done this week before we get on the plane to Korea.”

Try as she might, Team Ontario skip Hailey Armstrong could not get her final shot to hold and she dropped a 5-3 decision to Team Alberta in the Championship final on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Try as she might, Team Ontario skip Hailey Armstrong could not get her final shot to hold and she dropped a 5-3 decision to Team Alberta in the Championship final on Sunday (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

It was Alberta’s ninth Canadian junior women’s title, and fourth in the past six years. The nine titles matches Manitoba’s output, and trails only Saskatchewan with 11.

Team Alberta, from left to right, Kristen Streifel, Chantele Broderson, Kate Goodhelpsen, Brenna Bilassy and Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent (Coach), celebrate their win at the 2017 Canadian Junior Women's National Curling Championships (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Alberta, from left to right, Kristen Streifel, Chantele Broderson, Kate Goodhelpsen, Brenna Bilassy and Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent (Coach), celebrate their win at the 2017 Canadian Junior Women’s National Curling Championships (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

The 2017 Canadian Juniors concludes later Sunday with the men’s final at 1:30 p.m. PST, featuring B.C.’s Tyler Tardi (Langley/New Westminster) and Ontario’s Matthew Hall (Kitchener).

The full scoreboard can be viewed at http://www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

Team Alberta, 2017 Canadian Junior Women's National Champions, (L to R), Kristen Streifel, Chantele Broderson, Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent (coach), Kate Goodhelpsen and Brenna Bilassy (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)
Team Alberta, 2017 Canadian Junior Women’s National Champions, (L to R), Kristen Streifel, Chantele Broderson, Amanda-Dawn St. Laurent (coach), Kate Goodhelpsen and Brenna Bilassy (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

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