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Wounded Manitoba moves on to Championship Pool at Tim Hortons Brier

BRANDON, Man. – They’re wounded and without the record they would like, but Mike McEwen and Team Manitoba are advancing into the Championship Pool at the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI.

McEwen and his Manitoba mates needed a win to remain in the Championship Pool picture and they got it Wednesday by scoring three in the eighth end, hanging on for a 7-6 win over John Likely and Team P.E.I. (1-6, Charlottetown) in the final draw for Pool A.

In the other round-robin draw games in the pool, Brad Jacobs and Team Northern Ontario (7-0, Sault Ste. Marie) scored three deuces and a triple en route to a 10-5 win over Jon Solberg and Team Yukon (3-4, Whitehorse); Brendan Bottcher and Team Wild Card (6-1, Edmonton) beat Kirk Muyres and Team Saskatchewan (4-3, Saskatoon) 8-2; and Martin Crête and Team Quebec (3-4, Saint-Romuald) defeated Andrew Symonds of Team Newfoundland and Labrador (0-7, St. John’s) 14-4.

Prince Edward Island’s John Likely gave Manitoba a good run in his final round-robin game, but loss 7-6 at the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

The top four teams in each of the eight-team pools advance. Wednesday’s results mean Northern Ontario, Wild Card, Manitoba and Saskatchewan move on to the Championship Pool. But they also carry their preliminary round records with them which puts Manitoba, with a 4-3 record, in a difficult position to advance into the four-team weekend playoffs.

“The story for us this week is we haven’t capitalized on a couple of opportunities so we have a few more wounds than we would like going into the next round,” said McEwen. “We’re playing well enough to give anyone in the field a good game, it’s just unfortunately we’re in do-or-die matches now.”

The good news, he said, is it’s nothing new for his team that had to run off seven straight victories to win the provincial title.

“So it’s not a new feeling for us. We don’t have any other choice so we’ll embrace that and move forward.”

Jacobs and his crew, seeking a second Tim Hortons Brier title after winning in 2013, had a battle on their hands with Team Yukon until cracking a three-ender in nine to remain unbeaten.

“Every win’s a big win and we’re fortunate to be 7-0 going into the Championship Pool,” said Jacobs. “We’re feeling good and now we can get some rest and come out refreshed tomorrow.  It wasn’t our best effort today, but we were able to get it done. It was ugly at times, but nothing wrong with facing a little bit of adversity mid-week. I think it’ll be good for us.”

The 2019 Tim Hortons Brier continues with tonight’s final preliminary round draw at 7 p.m. CST.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/

TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2019brier/tickets.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019brier/?lang=fr

About John Korobanik