Winnipeg's Mike McEwen shoots a stone during the BOOST National men's quarterfinals on Nov. 18, 2017, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. (Anil Mungal)

McEwen clips Gushue for spot in National semifinals

November 18, 2017, 8:43 PM

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen edged Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., 4-3 during the BOOST National quarterfinals Saturday at the Essar Centre.

McEwen advanced to the evening semifinals and draws Scotland’s Bruce Mouat, who played the “giant killer” role once again to knock out Calgary’s Kevin Koe 7-1.

Team Gushue swept through the Tour Challenge Tier 1 and Masters tournaments and extended its winning streak to start the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season to 17 before falling to John Morris’s team from Vernon, B.C., in the final round-robin match.

Gushue, who has won nine Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling titles, opened with the hammer against McEwen in the heavyweight bout but couldn’t capitalize as he was limited to a draw for one in the first.

The six-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion McEwen fired blanks in two and three while waiting patiently for a chance to present itself. It looked like McEwen had a tap for two points in the cards during the fourth frame but hit and rolled too far for just a single to tie it 1-1.

The force was strong in this one with Gushue drawing for another single in the fifth while facing a bunch.

McEwen didn’t miss on another opportunity to score two in the sixth. Gushue attempted to hit and roll inwards off of one of his own to connect to the counter. Unfortunately for Gushue, he rolled under and gifted McEwen an open draw anywhere in the eight-foot circle for a deuce and a 3-2 lead.

The reigning Brier and world champion Gushue sat shot rock prior to his last in seven but McEwen protected it with a gate of rocks. There was a small hole but Gushue was light on his last and wasn’t able to get in there regardless, tying it 3-3 and losing hammer heading home.

McEwen had one in the house prior to his last and didn’t need to throw it as Gushue went wide and light to miss the rings entirely on his final rock.

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Meanwhile, the 2016 world junior gold medallist Mouat got the jump on Koe stealing singles in the opening couple ends, added a three count in the fourth and swiped back-to-back ends again in five and six. The 2016 world men’s champion Koe was limited to just a single in three.

Mouat qualified for the playoffs in a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament for the first time in his career when he ousted reigning event champ and hometown hero Brad Jacobs during Friday’s tiebreaker stage. McEwen also made it through a tiebreaker against Greg Balsdon of Kingston, Ont.

On the other side of the bracket, Toronto’s John Epping cooled down No. 1 seed Jason Gunnlaugson of Winnipeg 7-3.

Gunnlaugson was running red hot securing the top spot with an unblemished 4-0 round-robin record.

Epping, yet another who qualified via tiebreakers, will play South Korea’s Chang-Min Kim, who continued to impress in his Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling debut. Kim clipped Winnipeg’s Reid Carruthers 6-2.

The men’s semifinals will be played alongside the women’s final four. Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones clashes with Calgary’s Chelsea Carey and Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta. faces Tracy Fleury of Sudbury, Ont.

Watch at 9 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and (international).

The BOOST National is the third tournament and second major of the 2017-18 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season.