Mike McEwen shoots a stone during the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

McEwen successfully defends Manitoba Viterra Championship

February 12, 2017, 8:28 PM

It’s a repeat for Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen at the Manitoba Viterra Championship.

McEwen successfully defended the men’s provincial title defeating Reid Carruthers of West St. Paul 8-7 in Sunday’s final.

The team of McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld are now off to St. John’s, N.L., next month to compete in their second career Tim Hortons Brier.

It was a bit of redemption for McEwen (7-1), who sustained his lone defeat in the tournament to Carruthers during the Page 1 vs. 1 playoff. Tied 1-1, McEwen’s last rock in the eighth end picked to give up a steal of two. Carruthers, who topped McEwen in the 2015 final, remained ahead to win 4-2 and take the direct berth — and hammer advantage — in the final.

McEwen made a risky choice in the first end opting to tuck his last buried rather than rip out Carruthers’s counter at the top of the rings. It paid off though as Carruthers was only able to graze McEwen’s rock and gave up a steal.

Carruthers took two in the second and forced McEwen to hit and stick for a single in three to knot it up 2-2.

McEwen made it through the port in the fifth to pull off a tricky double takeout and sit a pair. Third Braeden Moskowy needed to join sweepers Colin Hodgson and Derek Samagalski to drag Carruthers’s draw shot into the four-foot circle for a single.

The lead bounced back and forth as McEwen took two in the sixth and Carruthers matched with a deuce in seven to keep pace and pull back ahead 5-4.

Momentum shifted in the eighth as Carruthers looked to draw to the tee-line and freeze with his last, but it rolled heavy and landed on top of one of his own. McEwen blasted them both out with a routine nose double takeout to count four and grab an 8-5 advantage.

Looking at a pair of counters in the ninth, Carruthers went for a double and just a single to trail by two without hammer coming home.

McEwen had to throw his last as Carruthers sat three in the house, but he pulled off a double to clinch the victory.

Earlier, McEwen advanced to the championship game with a convincing 8-2 victory over Trevor Loreth in the semifinal.

McEwen jumped out of the gate with a three-ender in the first. Loreth’s fourth Brad Haight looked to make a double with his first rock, but crashed on one of his team’s own rocks and opened the door for McEwen to set up and score three.

After McEwen made a double to sit two in the third, Haight opted to hit and stick, however, his shooter rolled out to concede one. Facing a couple counters again in four, Haight came up short on the draw to give up another point. Team Loreth’s woes continued as Haight hit and rolled out in five as McEwen stole his third consecutive single to hold a commanding six-point advantage.

McEwen didn’t ease off of the pedal putting the pressure on in the sixth sitting four counters, but Loreth got on the board as Haight hit and rolled onto the button for one.

McEwen made an open hit to tack on another two points in the seventh. Loreth added another single in eight and shook hands.

It was a career-best run for Loreth, who hadn’t qualified for the playoffs in provincials prior to this year.