The Red Deer College Queens, Kings and mixed curling teams have pulled off a curling hat trick with all three squads heading to the ACAC  conference championships for the third straight year.

This is quite the turnaround for a program which struggled to find bodies to get on the ice, let alone go to a conference championship.

“We had the odd year awhile ago where, you know, hey you look athletic I think I could teach you to throw a rock,” said Head Coach Brad Hamilton.

Oh, how the times have changed. Last year the Queens were crowned as ACAC champions and now all three teams can shoot for gold once again.

“I don’t know if we’ve consciously tried to change the culture, but the culture has changed a little bit,” said Hamilton. “My best recruiters are the curlers. When they do well and when they come from where ever they come from and talk about it, it drags some other curlers here.”

The depth of the program has helped with the on-ice success. The Kings and Queens lost their very talented skips from last season but that didn’t slow them down or change the mind set. It would have been easy to think this might be an off year for them.

“We didn’t think that, and the curlers sure didn’t think that,” said Hamilton. “We kind of have an expectation here that we hit provincials and we try to get to nationals.”

Hamilton says he has confidence in his three skips, Austin Kelts-Larsen, Sara McMann and Ashlyn Wozney. Both Kelts-Larsen and McMann played on the Kings and Queens teams last year with Wozney playing on the mixed team. All three have handled the skip duties to Hamilton’s satisfaction to this point.

“There’s been the odd little bump along the road, but it’s been a bump, not a huge crater.”

Both the men’s and mixed teams had to pull a rabbit out of the hat to make it to the ACAC Championship with 3-2 records while the Queens team went 5-1. Hamilton says experiencing some pressure to get into the dance was something these teams can build on this coming weekend in Camrose.

Reaching this level of success and consistency was not something Hamilton admits he saw coming when this program was struggling somewhat. This turn of events has also presented him with a bit of a predicament.

“I think I said somewhere way back early, I said if we ever got three teams to the ACAC’s and won a medal I was retiring, and I didn’t do that,” he laughed.

He feels the quality of curling in the ACAC has seen a rise with more teams taking part in the league. There are a couple of teams not at this event who could beat anyone on any given day, he said.

“So, you can’t have a bad weekend out of the two or you’re not going to provincials. So, they get rewarded for working hard.”

As far as looking into the crystal ball to pick a winner Hamilton says when you get to this part of the season anyone can get hot at the right time.

“Once you get there then you see when the nerves kick in.”

The ACAC Conference championships start February 16th at Augustana College in Camrose.