ST. JOHN’S – It seemed inevitable that Mike McEwen would play for the Brier title.
Taking a 5-2 lead into the 7th end of his semifinal match with Kevin Koe, the Manitoba skip held Team Canada to a single and seemed to be in complete control.
But some questionable decision-making and a sudden burst of wonderful shooting from the defending champ left McEwen ruing what happened after a 7-6 extra end loss.
Up 5-3 in the 8th, McEwen decided to try a tough runback to score a possible three points but missed, giving Koe a steal of one.
After forcing McEwen to take a single in the 9th, Koe stuck a double in the 10th to send it to an extra end.
The turning point in the 11th came when McEwen, having a rock in the back of the four-foot, decided not to peel a guard with his first shot but instead tried to draw to the top of the four foot.
Had he made the shot, it would have left Koe with virtually no way to score, but he left the rock light and it gave Koe the chance to freeze on the button, which he did perfectly.
That left McEwen with a really difficult runback on a high guard, but his shot never had a chance. The brushers gave up halfway down the ice, watching their chance at a Brier title slide out the window.
“I guess we tried to do too much. That’s on us. If I make that double [in the 8th], it’s over,” McEwen said. “I hadn’t thrown a lot of draws so I was feeling my odds of making that were just as good as the draw.
In the deciding extra end, the skip knows if he could have made his first shot a little better, his team could be playing for gold today.
“He might not have a shot. He maybe would have a run to kill everything, but that might have not been there if they had been square on each other. If we had made a really good shot, the best he could do is get rid of both and then we would be drawing the open house to get the win.”
Instead Manitoba will face Northern Ontario for bronze for the second straight year. That starts at 12:30, the final between Koe and hometown favourite Brad Gushue starts at 5:30.