McEwen knocks off heavy hitters for dream start in home province Brier

Saskatoon's Mike McEwen rink (Photo: Curling Canada) are embracing the home province support as they climb to 3-0 at the Montana's Brier.

By: Cameron Sallaj

The 2024 Montana's Brier in Regina has been a dream start so far for Mike McEwen and his Saskatchewan championship rink from the Nutana Curling Club. Not only have they started the event with a perfect 3-0 record, but they've also dealt with some of their toughest competition in the early stages of the event.

In the opening draw, the team of McEwen, third Colton Flasch, second Kevin Marsh and lead Dan Marsh were pushed by Prince Edward Island's Tyler Smith. Tied 6-6 in the tenth, McEwen needed a hit and stick to secure the win, which he made to open the team's campaign for the 2024 title on the right foot.

In Draw 3, Team Saskatchewan came up against the two-time reigning Canadian champs Brad Gushue and Team Canada. The team got off to a good start though, opening with a count of two in the first end.

The Gushue rink got one back in the second before stealing a single in the third to even the score. In the next three ends, however, Team McEwen took full control. After scoring two in the fourth, they stole back-to-back points in the fifth and sixth ends. This gave them a 6-2 lead with just four ends to play.

After trading singles in seven and eight, the Gushue rink attempted to mount a comeback with two in the ninth. This brought the game to a 7-5 score with one end to play. In ten, however, McEwen made sure to not let Gushue back into it, securing the 7-6 victory and handing Team Canada their first loss.

The McEwen rink had no time to rest as in their next game, they faced Alberta's Kevin Koe who was sitting at 1-1 and looking to even the two teams' records. Things started well for Team McEwen again, however, as they stole a single point in the second end to open the scoring.

The two teams traded deuces through three and four with Koe blanking the fifth. McEwen held a 3-2 lead heading into the second half.

Starting the back five, Kevin Koe scored two for his Alberta side in the sixth. After blanking seven, McEwen pulled his Saskatchewan side back ahead with the fourth deuce of the game to give them the 5-4 edge. In nine, Koe was forced to just one point, tying the score and giving the hammer back to McEwen as the two teams headed to ten.

In the final frame, Mike McEwen again ensured victory for his rink with his final stone of the end, scoring one and giving them the 6-5 victory over Koe. Team Saskatchewan shot a game winning 93% while Alberta wasn't far behind at 91%.

Currently, Saskatchewan is in sole possession of first place in Pool B with a 3-0 record, closely followed by Alberta's Aaron Sluchinski at 2-0. Tied for third are Canada's Gushue and the Northwest Territories' Jamie Koe each holding 2-1 records.

With a bye in the next Pool B draw, Team McEwen will look to keep things rolling as they face Nova Scotia's Matthew Manuel (0-3; Halifax) in Draw 9 Monday night. After their fifth game against Alberta's Sluchinski on Tuesday, the team closes out the round robin against the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Quebec.

The next draw from the 2024 Montana's Brier is at 2:00 PM Central Time with Pool A set for action. In the featured game, Alberta's Brendan Bottcher (3-0; Calgary) looks to stay undefeated and improve to 4-0 while Northern Ontario's Trevor Bonot (2-1; Thunder Bay) tries to even the two teams records at 3-1.

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