© Mitch MacDonald
Skip Sarah Fullerton calls a shot during the Pepsi provincial junior curling championships at the Charlottetown Curling Club Monday. The Charlottetown and Cornwall-based rink that includes Fullerton, mate Michelle McQuaid, second Sara MacRae and lead Hillary Thompson won its third-straight provincial title after defeating the Cornwall-Maple Leaf Amanda MacLean rink in a thrilling 7-4 come-from-behind victory. Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Make it three in a row.
Sarah Fullerton's rink, based out of Charlottetown-Cornwall, will represent P.E.I. for the third straight year at the national junior curling championship this February.
The team won the 2012 Pepsi provincial junior championship Monday at the Charlottetown Curling Club.
Fullerton defeated Amanda MacLean's Cornwall-Maple Leaf rink 7-4 in the junior women's single-game final with a thrilling come-from-behind victory.
Joining the junior women at the nationals for the first time will be Alex Matters' Charlottetown-based rink.
The 16-year-old Matters led his team to two straight victories over Sam Ramsay's rink, also from Charlottetown, to sweep the best-of-three final, 7-6 and 5-3.
The M&M Meat Shops Canadian Juniors will be held in Napanee, Ont., Feb. 4 to 12.
The viewing galleries at the curling club were jam-packed to watch the two provincial finals, which started at 10 a.m.
In the women's final, the MacLean rink jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third end and led 4-2 in the seventh.
But a slick final shot from the 20-year-old Fullerton saw the skip nudge out a MacLean rock to pick up a deuce and tie the game 4-4.
Fullerton went up 5-4 in the ninth end and added two more in the final to win 7-4.
Fullerton said MacLean "really gave us a run for our money."
"That was the most exciting final we've played," Fullerton said. "Someone just told me ‘You feed off the pressure' and yeah, the pressure doesn't really bother me. I just take it one shot at a time. We used our experience, for sure."
Her rink, which includes fellow 20-year-olds Michelle McQuaid (mate), Sara MacRae (second) and Hillary Thompson (lead), finished fourth at last year's nationals in Calgary.
Fullerton said their goal will be to improve on their past performances.
"We really wanted to get back and try to do even better. It feels great to be able to represent this province once again."
On the junior men's side, the Matters rink was able to rise above the rest in a highly-competitive event.
"I think that was probably one of the best games we ever played in our whole life," said Matters. "Everyone made all the shots they needed to. I'm really proud of all of them."
Mate Chris Gallant, 16, second Kyle Holland, 17, and lead Andrew Cameron, 15, make up the rest of the young, skilled team.
Last year, they won the Atlantic under-18 curling title in Charlottetown for their first taste of a major victory.
"These boys have worked very hard all year and they've improved their skills to the point where they're capable of making shots under pressure now," said their coach, Peter Gallant. "As a coach, it makes you proud to perform under those conditions. You have to make the shots when the pressure's on, and the boys did today."
Matters broke open a 2-2 tie in the fifth end, scoring two points to go up 4-2.
Ramsay pulled back to within one point in the seventh end, only to see Matters go up 5-3 in the eighth and ride that score to victory.
While some of Matters' early points required measurements to be decided, Ramsay's rink missed several shots down the stretch.
"We set this goal at the start of the year," said Matters. "I think we worked the hardest. Not to be cocky, but we set a schedule for gym times and stuff. This was really the one we wanted, so we were just focused on that and every day had it in mind."
Gallant said he expects to see stiff competition in Napanee next month, but added his young rink hopes to open some eyes.
"We're so pumped," added Matters. "To get out to a bigger tournament and to play teams from all across Canada. . . . It's so exciting."
While the Matters and Fullerton rinks hoisted the F. R. Seaman Memorial trophies, Glen MacLean from the Maple Leaf club and Angela Hodgson of the victorious Fullerton squad took home top coach awards.
Montague skip Cody Dixon and Cornwall lead Jenny McLean were awarded the championships' fair play awards.