Team McEwen moves on to Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings final

OTTAWA – Mike McEwen’s team will get a shot Sunday at winning one of the big prizes it has been craving ever since the Winnipeg boys got together more than a decade ago, while Brad Gushue has been denied an opportunity to chase a second Olympic men’s curling gold medal. Team McEwen – including third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and coach Chris Neufeld – defeated Gushue’s St. John’s team 6-4 Saturday evening to advance to Sunday’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings men’s final against Team Kevin Koe of Calgary (7 p.m.). McEwen has always been a big winner on the cashspiel circuit, but the team’s best showing at Curling Canada’s big shows was a loss to Gushue in the Page playoff game at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. Getting to represent Canada at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, would be a breakthrough for the Manitobans. Gushue said it was the best game he’s seen McEwen play, and if he plays like that against Koe he’ll win. “In a sudden-death game, that’s probably pretty accurate,” said McEwen. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so comfortable; it’s not perfectly comfortable, but being able to handle whatever anxiety was there, I’ve never felt better in this arena under that pressure. That kind of calmness and support my teammates have for not just me, but everybody out there. We’re going to need that tomorrow because when Kevin’s on we might have to play exactly like that to beat him.” B.J. Neufeld said McEwen has played some amazing games, but not on this type of stage. “I’m glad he picked this moment to bring out his best. It’s just where he is right now, he’s in a really good place, and we’re feeding off of it,” said Neufeld.

Brad Gushue reacts after an untimely miss during Saturday’s semifinal loss to Team McEwen. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Gushue and third Mark Nichols were part of Canada’s Olympic gold-medal team in 2006, and along with second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallows and coach Jules Owchar are the 2017 world champions. But they ran into a hot team Saturday evening. “Extremely disappointing,” said Gushue. “I didn’t think we played poorly, I don’t think we played great but obviously at the level Mike played we had to play at an extremely high level which we didn’t. But I’m proud of our team this week. We played well. “This is the nature of the Trials. You get a guy like Mike McEwen, as good as he is, playing at that level boy, it’s tough. With so much at stake, in the early ends, both teams were more cautious than a bomb squad defuser. The tide began to turn in the fifth. McEwen made a bold move by going for a difficult double takeout to score two, the first deuce of the game, and go ahead 3-2. It put the momentum in the Manitoba team’s favour, especially after Gushue was forced to draw for one in the sixth giving McEwen the hammer with the score tied 3-3. McEwen got bold again in the seventh with a tap on his first shot but it backfired and he had to settle for one and a 4-3 lead. But in the eighth, with the tension and the rocks in the house building, McEwen made a sweet hit and roll behind cover with his final shot to sit two. Gushue tried a double that didn’t work giving McEwen a steal of two and a commanding 6-3 lead, The 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings continues Sunday with the women’s final between Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan and Team Chelsea Carey of Calgary at 2 p.m. and the men’s final at 7 p.m. (all times EST). The men’s semifinal, between Brad Gushue of St. John’s and Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen, is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings are available at TSN/RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule For ticket information for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, CLICK HERE. This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at