A title just wasn't to be in the end but it still was a respectable showing by the Mackenzie Jolicouer and Ashley Payne rinks at the U18 curling provincials held Thursday through Sunday at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
Neither Jolicouer's Stratton-based rink nor Payne's Fort Frances squad were able to advance to the semi-final.
Team Jolicouer, which also was comprised of Aynsley Williams (third), Andrea Schram (second), and Micaela Jolicouer (lead), had the better showing of the two rinks by compiling a 4-3 record in round-robin play.
The squad opened tourney play Thursday afternoon with a 10-8 comeback win over Hannah May (Blind River) before also dumping Abby DeJoseph (Cochrane) 10-4 that evening.
They followed that up with a 6-1 loss to Bella Croisier (Sudbury) early Friday afternoon but then rebounded with a big 8-3 win over Payne later in the day.
Jolicouer then dumped Mia Toner (Sudbury) by a narrow 7-5 margin that evening before being defeated by that same score at the hands of Jessica Amyot (New Liskeard) on Saturday morning.
The squad then was edged 6-5 by Faith Hebert (Thunder Bay) that evening to settle for fourth place and narrowly miss out on Sunday's semi-final berth.
“[The girls] feel they did well considering they hadn't many team practises,” noted coach Colleen Jolicouer.
"It was a great experience seeing familiar faces from last year and meeting new ones.
“Some tough losses on Saturday, with one game down to the last shot and they didn't have hammer and the last game went into an extra end,” she added.
“They went undefeated in the qualifiers to make the provincials and did really well to place fourth in all of Northern Ontario,” the coach lauded.
"We're proud of their sportsmanship on and off the ice.
“We would like to thank the Northern Ontario Curling Association and the Fort Frances Curling Club for a great U18 provincial championship event,” Jolicouer said.
As for the Payne rink, they went 3-4 to finish in fifth place.
The squad, which also featured Daffni Chabot (third), Lauren Penney (second), and Anna Peters (lead), opened play Thursday morning with a back-and-forth 10-7 win over May.
The squad then edged Toner 6-5 that afternoon before losing 5-3 to Amyot on Friday morning.
Team Payne rebounded with a 7-2 rout of DeJoseph early that afternoon before losing to Jolicouer.
After getting thumped 8-1 by Croisier on Saturday morning, Payne then also fell 9-7 to Hebert that afternoon to finish short of advancing.
“The girls had a great weekend," said coach Kim Beaudry. ”This was a building year for us.
"Our goal was to make it to provincials [and] finishing in the middle of the pack was great.
“We got a lot of good game experience," she enthused, adding "it was great to play at home with hometown support.”
Croisier wound up claiming the girls' title with a 15-1 thrashing of Amyot on Sunday afternoon while Malcolm O'Bright (North Bay) edged Dallas Burgess (Kakebeka Falls) by a 5-4 score for the boys' crown.
No local rinks competed in the boys' division.
Crosier and O'Bright now will represent Northern Ontario at the national championships set for April 2-7 in Sherwood Park, Alta.