ST. JOHN’S – Manitoba flirted with disaster for a third straight game and needed two key shots by skip Mike McEwen to pull out a win and remain alone atop the standings at the Tim Hortons Brier Wednesday.
McEwen, who had some struggles through the first six ends, made the pivotal shots when needed to give his Winnipeg team a dramatic 6-5 win over Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario (6-3; Sault Ste. Marie).
The win moved Manitoba to 6-1, the only team with just one loss.
McEwen, vice- skip B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and coach Chris Neufeld struggled early, falling behind Northern Ontario 3-1.
But McEwen bailed them out with a crowded-house double with his first rock in eight and that led to a big two points and a 4-4 tie.
In the 10th his sweepers carried his inturn draw around guards and to the edge of the button to score two for the win. That precipitated an emotional celebration by McEwen and teammates.
“I don’t think it gets any better than that,” McEwen said. “We’ve been pretty emotional winning games but that’s certainly our upper level.
“But playing those guys … it feels like a playoff game. And there was probably a bit of pent-up emotion. So that was probably a bit of release of those frustrations.”
The frustration began building early, when key misses by McEwen and B.J. Neufeld handed Jacobs two in the first and another one in three.
By the fourth end Manitoba was visibly frustrated. It didn’t get any better in the fifth. McEwen, shooting just 63 per cent to that point, couldn’t make a hit-and-stick with his final stone, rolling out to score only one and still trail 3-2.
They gave that one back in seven before the game turned their way in the eighth.
“We’ve been leaking a little oil over the last few games,” said McEwen. “We’re 3-1 but it sure didn’t feel like it the way we’ve been playing. It was a big improvement to pull that one out.”
In other action on Wednesday afternoon, Kevin Koe and Team Canada (5-2; Calgary) gave up two in the ninth and a steal of one in the 10th but still hung on for an 8-7 win over Adam Casey of Saskatchewan (5-4; Regina).
Brad Gushue of Newfoundland-Labrador (5-2; St. John’s) got one in the 11th to nip John Morris of British Columbia (5-4; Vernon-Kelowna).
The young Brendan Bottcher team from Alberta (3-6; Edmonton) which appeared to have found its stride on Tuesday, ran into a couple of savvy veteran teams Wednesday. After losing to Quebec in the morning, Alberta struggled to score against Glenn Howard of Ontario (2-5; Etobicoke) and lost 6-3.
Jean-Michel Ménard of Quebec (5-2; Lévis), Jamie Murphy of Nova Scotia (2-5; Halifax), Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick (1-6; Fredericton) and Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (1-6; Yellowknife) had the byes.
Tonight’s final draw goes at 8 p.m. NST.
For ticket and other event information, https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/
For the complete schedule, go to https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/draw/
This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/?lang=fr
TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.