Team Bakker, which includes Cochrane curler Julianna MacKenzie, has punched its ticket to the U21 provincial championship after winning the first-ever U21 Ladies Excel Cup in Okotoks over the weekend.

After losing their first game to a Saskatchewan entry, the Bakker rink went undefeated for the balance of the round-robin. They competed against three other top-ranked Alberta teams and two from Saskatchewan.

Success in a skills competition helped the team accumulate enough points to gain a berth to the provincials without competing in a qualifier.

MacKenzie and third Ashton Skrlik tied for second in the skills competition and had a draw to the button to break the tie. The competition was a shot-based test with points awarded for each shot made. 

Gaining the first berth into the provincials is great, says MacKenzie.

"It's pretty exciting," she says. "Now we don't have to compete at the qualifier in Black Diamond next weekend."

Team Baker has competed in about seven draws so far this season and are coming together as a team.

"We're really gelling, and now's the time to keep it up as we prepare for provincials," she says.

Team Bakker is formed by skip Ryleigh Bakker, third Ashton Skrlik, second Lisa Parent and lead Julianna Mackenzie.

Besides their regular-season tour, the team has competed in bonspiels in both North Battleford, SK, and Vernon, B.C.

Both U18 and U21 men's and ladies' Excel Cups were held over the weekend. Okotoks hosted the U21 Excel Cups while the U18 teams curled at Edmonton's Saville Sports Centre.

The U21 ladies' provincials are being hosted by Lloydminister, Jan. 1-5. The seven other teams will be determined at northern and southern Alberta qualifiers being held Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 20-22.

The provincial champions will travel to Langley, B.C. to compete for the Canadian title.

Next up for Team Bakker is the Women’s Playdowns being hosted by the Calgary Curling Club, Dec. 20-22.