McEwen beats Stoughton to advance to final

Mike McEwen awaits the winner of the semifinal. (Brian Donogh/Winnipeg Sun Files)

Mike McEwen awaits the winner of the semifinal. (Brian Donogh/Winnipeg Sun Files)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

STEINBACH -- The challenger called him the 'King Kong' of the local curling world.

But it was Mike McEwen who was pummelling his chest when the dust settled Saturday night.

McEwen's Assiniboine Memorial foursome felled Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton -- that king of the mountain -- 7-5 in the Page playoff one-versus-one game of the Safeway Championship at the T.G. Smith Centre Saturday night.

"Jeff is King Kong in Manitoba," McEwen said before beating him in the playoff. "It's such a good feeling to play a guy like Jeff -- who didn't play bad -- I just thought that we were that solid as a team so that should give us a lot of confidence for the final. If we can do something similar, we should be in good shape."

First final

McEwen praised his team of third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld (B.J.'s brother) for helping him get to his first men's provincial final.

"It's great to see all three guys in front of me really step up," he said.

Stoughton drops into Sunday's 9:30 a.m. semifinal where he will take on Assiniboine Memorial's Kerry Burtnyk. McEwen will play the winner.

"Whether it's Jeff or Kerry, we're going to be in for a battle in the final," McEwen said. "But we felt really good going into this event and felt we rightly deserved second seed and we've had good luck beating these guys so, we feel pretty confident."

And should he win the whole shebang and represent Manitoba at the Brier in Halifax, March 6-14?

"It would be unbelievable," McEwen said. "You know, I grew up at the curling club before I could even get the 40-pound rocks down the ice so this is a dream since I was taken to a club as a kid and started throwing rocks when I was nine or 10."

He got a taste of what it might be like when the crowd screamed during the 10th end as the Neufelds have ties to the Automobile City.

"When B.J. made that last double in 10, which pretty much sealed the game, I felt an adrenaline rush go through me when the crowd erupted," said McEwen. "Man, did that feel good."

Stoughton was philosophical in defeat.

"We're still two wins away so that's a good thing," he said. "We're just going to have to be a little bit sharper. We're just a little half-inch or inch off (Saturday) and that was the difference in the game."

Burtnyk beat Beausejour's Jason Gunnlaugson 5-4 in the two-two playoff.

"It was a great game," said Burtnyk. "Jason's team played very well. My guys had one of their better games of the week. We got a little lucky here and there ... I'm sure for those guys, it's hard to take because they had a good chance and fortunately for us, we get to play (Sunday) morning.

"We lost to (McEwen Saturday) morning and we were down. (Coach) Rob Meakin made a very wise statement saying, 'You don't have to beat anybody twice.' So, we don't ... So, we're basically in control of what we're going to do so we've got a chance (Sunday) and that's great right now."

Gunnlaugson was despondent.

"I don't think we could curl better and lose," he said. "Two easy shots for a pile of points and I missed them. From there, we played a good last end and then just threw an overhand draw and left some pretty easy shots for him. That's why he's won as much as he has in the past."

DREAM TEAM: Stoughton was named the all-star skip with third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld (B.J.'s brother), all of McEwen's team, were selected to the squad by the Manitoba Curling Media Association.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos