Monday, February 9, 2015

Is McEwen loss biggest news of Provincial Sunday? The cross-country wrap-up

So the biggest story of the provincial championships held Sunday has to be not who won, but who didn’t.
For the fifth time since 2010, Mike McEwen came up short in his bid to wear the buffalo at the Brier. McEwen lost to Reid Carruthers in the provincial final as Paul Wiecek outlined in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Mike McEwen's time will come.
Probably. Maybe? 
But that time wasn't Sunday. 
Reid Carruthers andhis foursome -- third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead ColinHodgson -- surprised just about everyone but themselves in defeating McEwen 5-3 at Westman Place in the final of the Safeway Manitoba men's curling championship.

Obviously McEwen took the loss hard, not only refusing to stop to talk with the ink-stained wretches but also failing to appear for the closing ceremonies, which created some awkward moments. 

McEwen did an interview with Sportsnet immediately following the game but blew off the rest of the reporters waiting for him. But much worse, McEwen also blew off the closing ceremonies where the champion is crowned and event volunteers are thanked, leaving his three team members -- third BJ Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld -- to stand awkwardly at centre ice by themselves.
Neufeld was dispatched after the game to speak on behalf of his teammates and explain his skip's absence. "I'm not sure," Neufeld said when asked the whereabouts ofhis skip. "It's not ideal but I can understand he's super frustrated. To lose five finals -- people react differently to that. It doesn't mean he's a bad guy or a bad teammate. It is what it is, I guess."


In Kenora, Brad Jacobs and his gold-medal winning team got past Al Hackner and as Peter Ruicci explained in the Sault Star, the skip was more relieved than excited about making it to another Brier.

Asked if feeling relieved was due to the fact the Jacobs rink was believed to be heavily favoured in Kenora, Jacobs said that's only part of the reason.

"But it's also never easy to win Northern Ontarios," he added. "It's very difficult. You have to perform."
But now they have the win and according to Ryan Harnden, that's always special.
"The Brier is something you always dream of winning as a young curler," he said. "It's like a young hockey player wanting to win the Stanley Cup. Hopefully we can win it again."
The foursome attended last year's Brier in Kamloops as spectators and quickly came to a conclusion."Watching the Brier was something that was a lot tougher than we expected," EJ Harnden said. "It was hard not getting there (as competitors)."

In Alberta, it came down to a battle of skips and as Terry Jones outlines in the Edmonton Sun, that was a battle that Kevin Koe won handily.

One statistic told the story. 

Kevin Koe 92%. Brendan Bottcher 67%.

Someday 23-year-old junior and college champion Bottcher is going to have his day but it wasn’t Sunday at the Boston Pizza Cup Alberta men’s curling championship.
Koe, the old pro, shot the lights out and virtually carried his new team on his back to a Brier berth – a berth that he gave up when he recruited Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert. Koe had won the Brier last year to qualify as the first team Canada with his previous team. 

Ontario will have a Howard going to the Brier, but that would be Scott, son of Glenn, who was part of Mark Kean’s victorious rink. Kean knocked off John Epping in the provincial final as MikeKoreen recounted in the Toronto Sun.

“Unreal,” the Innerkip skip, 26, said after completing his roller-coaster journey to his first Ontario Tankard title on Sunday.
“It definitely hasn’t set in yet because I’mstill talking. I should be crying or something,” Kean said.
For Glenn Howard, however, it was joy after the difficulty of watching rather than playing.

The happiest guy in the arena might have beenfour-time world champion Glenn Howard, father of Scott. In a stunner, Glenn failed to qualify for the Tankard this year, but his son put the family name back on the trophy.
“It’s such a proud moment as a parent,” said Glenn, who has been to 15 Briers. “Just to see your kid reach his dreams. His dream obviously was to get to the Brier on his own and he’s done that today.” 
Glenn said it was harder “times a hundred” to watch Scott than to play in a Tankard final. 
“It’s hideous,” Glennsaid with a smile. “You try to remain calm and it’s absolutely impossible.” 
Scott said it was aspecial role reversal. 
“To hug my dad rightafter was just surreal because he has been there so many times and I’ve been onthe cheering side,” Scott said. “It’s definitely different when he’s comingonto the ice to cheer me on.”

B.C.'s Jim Cotter defended his title and his headed back to the Brier. That comes after an extra-en, final-shot draw to the pin for the win over Dean Joanisse, reported The Vernon Morning Star

Cotter’s weight, the brushing of front end Rick Sawatzky and Tyrel Griffith and the call by third Ryan Kuhn was bang-on as the rock settled right on the middle of the button to give the Vernon foursome a thrilling 7-6, extra end victory over New Westminter’s Dean Joanisse and a second straight Canadian Direct Insurance B.C. Men’s Curling Championship.
The win avenged an 8-5 loss Saturdaymorning in the one versus two Page playoff format to Joanisse, and  sendsthe Vernon quartet on to the Brier in Calgary starting Feb. 28. 
“Joanisse and his team just played awesome all week and we knew we’d have our hands full and would have to get a couple of breaks along the way and be at the top of our game,” said Cotter, who captured his fifth purpleheart as provincial champ, and who lost only one game at his home club during the bonspiel.

In Nova Scotia, there was a celebration of sorts, even if the winning team isn’t in the Brier just yet as Monty Mosherexplains in the Chronicle Herald.

Glen MacLeod and his Mayflower teammates are going back to the Brier. 
Well, sort of. 
MacLeod and his team of Peter Burgess, Colten Steele and Robbie McLean beat reigning champion Jamie Murphy of Lakeshore 8-5 in Sunday’s Nova Scotia men’s curling championship final at the Halifax Curling Club. 
The winners don’t have a guaranteed spot in the Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary beginning Feb. 28. They will have to earn a berth in a three-team play-in competition with P.E.I. and Yukon.
Murphy and MacLeod, both 5-2, were the toptwo teams from the round-robin. MacLeod swept Murphy 3-0 in the event,including both playoff games.

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