McEwen making some noise

CON GRIWKOWSKY

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

Until now, Mike McEwen's main claim to fame has been ending up on the short end in the 2001 Canadian junior final to Brad Gushue.

Now, the 28-year-old skip and his young Winnipeg foursome are making a little noise on the World Curling Tour.

From a city which has ceded the title of the world's capital city of curling to Edmonton, McEwen is one of the young guns who's helping to slowly shift the balance of power back to the Manitoba capital.

"Hopefully, some of the young guys like us, Daley Peters and Reid Carruthers can continue to progress," said McEwen, who gets some good-natured teasing about the Edmonton/Winnipeg rivalry.

"I hear it a little bit. I'm pretty good friends with (Kevin Koe lead) Nolan Thiessen, who used to play with me. He likes to rib me a bit since he's moved to Edmonton."

The Manitoba scene has been dominated by veterans Jeff Stoughton and Kerry Burtnyk.

At this weekend's Canada Cup qualifier, McEwen not only beat Burtnyk to get his second straight ticket to the Canada Cup, but he denied Stoughton a spot in the event.

"It was ugly," he said about overcoming a 5-0 deficit to beat Burtnyk 8-7 in the morning quarter-final.

"Every game against Kerry's been down to last rock and it was nice to get that monkey off our back.

"We've been slowly getting rid of them one at a time. We'd lost to Glenn Howard so many times and finally beat him in the last Slam.

"We've beaten Stoughtie and Burtnyk and Koe. We just haven't beaten Martin yet."

McEwen, who lost the final of last year's qualifier in Ottawa, has even leapfrogged ahead of Stoughton into the No. 8 spot on the Canadian Teams Ranking System and is just 12 CTRS points back of Burtnyk in the race to become Manitoba's No. 1 team.

Only in its second year, the foursome's climb up curling's ladder has been dizzying.

"We had some pretty lofty goals, whether they were realistic or not," said McEwen, eliminated 7-5 by Martin in yesterday's semi.

"Building this team, the goal is to get to the Trials. We're in a pretty good spot for the pre-Trials. We're going to get our shot to get there.

"I would have been happy to be top 10. Our goal was to finish top 16 this year, so to be well ahead of that is good."

For a first-year team to get into last year's Players Championship is an amazing feat in itself, especially for a younger crew.

Now that they're well into the top 10, McEwen can build some separation, as he's now established his rink among the curling elites that can get into the exclusive events.

"A lot of teams that are chasing behind you don't have the events to play in because they're not in the Slams and they're not in the Canada Cup," said McEwen, likely to be the top seed in the MCT bonspiel to qualify for the Manitoba provincials.

"The only things they have to go after are the Brier and maybe the odd spiel, but their chances are very limited."

You can almost hear the engines warming up for the flight to the Prince George pre-Trials event.


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