Curling fans always seem to get their money’s worth, and more, when Mike McEwen is curling. And the Manitoba Champs did not disappoint in their highly anticipated Brier debut, taking Brad Gushue of Newfoundland- Labrador to 11 ends before dropping a 5-4 decision on Saturday afternoon in Ottawa.
McEwen jumped out to an early lead and was up 3-2 after five ends before Gushue scored a deuce in the sixth to grab a 4-3 lead going into the 10th.
McEwen lost an opportunity for a potential game winning deuce when second Matt Wozniak was called for a hog line violation on his first shot and had to have the rock removed from the house, leaving Gushue sitting with 3. McEwen was forced to settle for one to force an extra end. Gushue was able to hit and stay with his last rock to pick up the win in a rematch of the 2001 Canadian Junior Men’s final, which the Newfoundland skip also won.
Team Manitoba is back on the ice Sunday morning to face another marquee opponent in Glenn Howard of host Ontario. Howard was one of a half dozen rinks to win on opening day- joining Gushue, Defending Champion Pat Simmons, BC’s Jim Cotter, Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario, and Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick.