Laura Burtnyk wins the 2017 Canola Junior Women’s Provincial Championship

Krysten Karwacki, CONTRIBUTOR

[From left] Skip Laura Burtnyk, third Hailey Ryan, second Sara Oliver, lead Rebecca Cormier, and coach Scott Grant pose with their Manitoba jackets at the St. Vital Curling Club after winning the 2017 Canola Junior Women’s Provincial Championship. ?SUPPLIED

Laura Burtnyk’s front end swept her last shot of the Manitoba junior championship game as hard as they could. The 2017 Canola Junior Women’s Provincial Championship final had been a nail-biting toss-up, and Burtnyk’s hit for two in the last end was key to seal the 8-7 win over Kristy Watling.

“It’s a pretty indescribable feeling,” said Burtnyk, who plays out of the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club. “To finally achieve this in my last year of juniors is the icing on the cake.”

Burtnyk and teammates Hailey Ryan, Sara Oliver, and Rebecca Cormier lost to Watling in the round robin, but their 5-2 record was enough to advance to the playoffs. Burtnyk defeated Paige Watkins in the page playoff, then beat Mackenzie Zacharias in the semifinal. Meanwhile, Watling went undefeated until the Burtnyk rematch.

Burtnyk and Watling were tied going into the fifth end break and traded deuces in the last half of the game. Burtnyk was left with a takeout she needed for two points in the last end.

“There was honestly never a moment in the game where I felt comfortable,” said 21-year-old Burtnyk. “I’m beyond happy and so proud of my team for how they performed this week.”

Burtnyk’s third, Hailey Ryan, said having provincial experience helped prepare her team. Last season, they lost in the finals to Abby Ackland by a score of 7-5.

“All four of us were in that final last year so I think this year we were better prepared,” said 21-year-old Ryan. “I knew in order to win against a team as good as Watling we would have to throw eight perfect shots [in the last end]. It added some pressure but we didn’t let the stress get to us.”

Burtnyk and Ryan’s championship win is in the line of curling success their families are accustomed to. Together, their fathers Kerry Burtnyk and Jeff Ryan won a Brier and world championship in 1995.

“My dad has had all the influence in the world on me in curling,” said Burtnyk. “What he has done in his time is remarkable, and I only hope I can accomplish half of what he has.”

Ryan said her father doesn’t get as involved with her curling and stays in the background.

“He is very supportive and truly believes in me,” said Ryan. “That has been huge for me especially this year. Understanding my dad’s success in curling has made me want to succeed as well.”

On the men’s side, J.T. Ryan – who is Hailey Ryan’s brother – and his team defeated former world junior champion Braden Calvert 7-3. Burtnyk’s and Ryan’s teams are now set to represent Manitoba at the 2017 Canadian Junior Curling Championships in Victoria, BC from Jan. 21-29.