Top seeds are well aware of McEwen threat

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

Assiniboine Memorial's Mike McEwen looms as the biggest threat to keep the top two seeds of the Safeway Championship from getting to their appointed Brier round with its much-coveted CTRS points.

Both Kerry Burtnyk and Jeff Stoughton are anxious to earn enough CTRS points to either pass Alberta's Kevin Koe and/or Randy Ferbey or win three of the last four major events to get straight into the 2009 Olympic trials.

"Mike's a very serious threat," Burtnyk agreed yesterday. "Mike's proven all year long that he's capable of beating anybody on the (World Curling Tour) and he's fully capable of beating anybody on any given day.

"A lot of the other guys here are also capable but Mike's being doing it on a much more consistent basis. He's definitely stronger this year than he was going into last year."

Stoughton concurred.

"They've proven themselves on the Tour and they are very capable of winning this," he said.

McEwen is not suffering from a lack of confidence.

"Every player on my team has told himself we can win this," said McEwen, supported by third B.J. Neufeld, 23, second Matt Wozniak, 26 and Denni Neufeld (B.J.'s brother), 27. "We're going to do everything we can to win it because we believe that, right now, we're at the same level as Jeff and Kerry. We've put in the hard work to do that so we think our chances are just as good as theirs. We think we definitely can win and we think we'd be a very good rep."

But they will not be overconfident.

"The big thing for us is those first few games, we can't take anybody lightly," said McEwen, 28. "We've got to prepare the same for each game. In a 32-team double (knockout), if you get a hiccup early, you make things pretty tough on yourselves. The big thing for us is that we want to keep both legs under us for as long as we can and that will give us more opportunities in case something goes wrong for us."

Burtnyk beat McEwen in a semifinal at last year's provincials.

"I have a couple of regrets in how we played that game," McEwen admitted. "We played very well but we didn't give ourselves enough chances to win ... I've thought about how we played that game and how we need to come out at the end and play to win, and not so much not to lose."


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