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Tie-breakers looming

With only one draw remaining, Cathy Overton-Clapham and Kevin Koe handed Stefanie Lawton and Mike McEwen their first losses of the 2012 Capital One Canada Cup of Curling.

(Photo CCA/Michael Burns)

Lawton was trailing 2-1 to Overton-Clapham after four ends, but patiently blanked the next three until she could create an opportunity to score 2 in eight. Overton-Clapham, who entered the draw still winless, did the same – blanking the ninth and finally scoring 2 to secure the 4-3 victory, her first. For Lawton, the loss didn’t change her first-place position in the standings, and she will go straight through to Sunday’s final.

In other women’s action, Crystal Webster (2-3) led 3-1 over Heather Nedohin after five ends. Nedohin hung in, taking 3 in the tenth to force the extra end. With Webster lying 2 and a long guard out front, Nedohin put her draw on the back four-foot. Webster made the open hit for the 7-6 win and an improved 3-3 record. Nedohin now sits with three wins and two losses, and will face Overton-Clapham in the final evening draw.

The other women’s game saw Chelsea Carey continue her climb back from 0-3 after the first five draws to sit 2-3 after defeating Sherry Middaugh 9-7. Carey took advantage of a Middaugh mistake in eight, drawing for 3 points and showing the kind of form that was missing earlier in the tournament.

“We’re continuing to get better,” said Carey after the game, looking back at her team’s slow start. “Unfortunately losing three games early in this field is a tough way to do it. But we’re getting progressively better and hopefully we can keep it going.”

Mike McEwen came into the afternoon game against Kevin Koe (2-2) sitting undefeated at the top of the leaderboard and assured of a place in the playoffs. By the third end, it was game on, with Koe applying pressure and forcing McEwen to make a finesse tap-back against 4 to give up a steal of 1.

The pressure continued as Koe and team Pat Simmons, Carter Rycroft and Nolan Thiessen found their stride, playing at 93% over the first four ends, and pushing McEwen to play difficult shots just to score a single.

“We played great for the first five or six ends, as good as we played all week,” said Koe. “They played better the second half of the game and we had a couple of key misses, but that’s the way it goes most of the time.”

Despite scoring 3 points in the eighth end, McEwen wasn’t able to hold Koe back, falling 7-4 for his first loss of the tournament.

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For John Epping, Draw 8 was about keeping the momentum going after an 8-7 win over Jeff Stoughton in the morning draw.

Two big shots by Epping helped him earn a 6-4 win. In the seventh, Gushue had one buried on the button, but Epping threw a highlight-reel in-off to remove the stone and score 2 to take a 4-3 lead. He followed that in nine with a run-back to score 2 and put the game out of reach.

“We had a good end going early,” said Epping about the seventh end. “Brad’s third [Brett Gallant] made a good one, and then Brad made a great one on his last one to get out of trouble. Then I had to make an in-off off a wide, wide double. That’s probably as hard as I’m going to throw it. That was a big deuce, and a big shot for us.”

Epping now sits at 3-3 and must rely on other teams to determine whether he gets into the playoffs. Gushue, still winless, plays his last game against Howard in the final draw this evening.

Also playing tonight are Martin vs Koe, Jones vs Carey, and Overton-Clapham vs Nedohin. Mike McEwen plays Jeff Stoughton in a game that will determine who goes directly to the men’s final on Sunday.