Mike McEwen, B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld celebrate after winning the World Cup Grand Slam of Curling trophy (Photo: Anil Mungal).

Mike McEwen wins first career Grand Slam at World Cup

November 7, 2010, 3:33 PM

WINDSOR, Ont. — Mike McEwen captured his first career Grand Slam title defeating Jeff Stoughton 4-2 in Sunday’s all-Winnipeg rink final at the World Cup of Curling.

McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld took home $24,000.

The victory followed a hectic Saturday for Team McEwen. They finished round-robin play with a 3-2 record to force tiebreakers and needed to double their win total in one day just to even reach the championship game. McEwen edged Olympic silver medallist Thomas Ulsrud of Norway 7-6 in a tiebreaker to qualify the playoffs. He then faced reigning gold medallist Kevin Martin during the quarterfinals and pulled off the 8-3 upset thanks to a huge steal of four in the second end. Another five-point victory propelled McEwen into the final with a 7-2 trouncing over Rob Fowler in just five ends during the semis.

“This is a huge stepping stone for our team and I hope we can stay together and [enjoy] bigger and better things from this point,” McEwen told Scott Russell of CBC Sports. “It’s really exciting what future we could have.”

Stoughton entered the final undefeated riding a seven-game win streak and opened with the hammer, however, it was McEwen who got on the scoreboard first with a steal in the second end.

“That’s been huge for us, throughout the playoffs,” McEwen said. “We haven’t had hammer at all the last four or five games, and I think we’ve almost stolen points to start every game.”

The teams kept pace from there exchanging singles through the third and fourth ends and again in five and seven with McEwen maintaining the one-point advantage heading into the final frame. Stoughton held the hammer coming home and looked to draw to the button on his last-chance final shot but it over-curled and missed the mark.

“We were hooped that whole [second] end,” Stoughton said. “We were lucky to only give up a steal of one. In the eighth end we had some great chances. They made all the right shots at the right time, and played really well.”

McEwen gave credit to his vice skip for bailing the team out in the eighth end and setting the table for victory.

“It was B.J.’s shots, his two third stones were the key that end,” McEwen said. “The in-off and then he made the double and that gave us the chance to get out of the end, otherwise we were in trouble.”

Meanwhile, Stoughton ended Glenn Howard’s drive for five during the semis scoring three points in the eighth to lift his team to a 6-4 comeback victory and punch their tickets to the final. Howard, of Coldwater, Ont., won four consecutive Masters/World Cup titles from 2006-09.

Stoughton, who earned $17,500 at the World Cup, was forced to juggle his lineup for the final after third Jon Mead had to leave early for a business meeting in Hong Kong. Reid Carruthers was bumped up to third and Toronto skip Greg Balsdon was called upon to throw second stones. Steve Gould remained at lead.

“I loved it, it was a great, great time out there,” Balsdon said. “Great ice, great atmosphere and the chance to play with these guys was just awesome.”