McEwen red hot on ice

Mike McEwen and his foursome are off to a red-hot start, appearing in four straight World Curling...

Mike McEwen and his foursome are off to a red-hot start, appearing in four straight World Curling Tour finals and winning three. (Terry Farrell/QMI Agency/Files)

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:50 AM ET

WINNIPEG - They're No. 1 — three times over.

The Mike McEwen foursome is currently No. 1 on the World Curling Tour money list with about $66,000; it tops the Canadian Tour Ranking System points list; and McEwen's is the first Manitoba men’s team to ever make it to the top of the WCT's Order of Merit.

McEwen’s red-hot foursome just won a WCT title in Brooks, Alta. — their third victory in four straight finals — to earn $22,000 Sunday.

“It feels a little surreal,” McEwen said Monday. “We’ve always looked up to these teams that are so good and it’s an unreal feeling that you’ve overtaken them.”

And here’s the scary thing — McEwen firmly believes his squad can get better.

“It’s amazing,” said McEwen, supported by third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld (B.J.’s brother). “We were just talking about how we’re still rough around the edges. Sometimes, we just squeak into the playoff round, then pick it up.

“I still think we have another gear. It’s exciting that we still have a lot of room for improvement. I just hope we don’t cool off.”

In Portage la Prairie two weekends ago, McEwen barely qualified through the C Event, then won the whole shebang.

“We still feel pressure going into a playoff situation but once we get into the playoff games, that pressure dissipates. Then, we feel more relaxed and more patient.”

That’s the biggest difference from last year when they were going great guns until they lost to Jeff Stoughton in the Manitoba final.

Another difference will be that McEwen will be the team to beat for the first time when it competes at the first Grand Slam of the season in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., this weekend.

More importantly, McEwen will be riding high when he slides into the Canada Cup the first week of December when the first direct route into the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials to be held in Winnipeg will be up for grabs.

“That is definitely No. 1 on the radar,” said McEwen, 31. “That’s going to be a tough experience. I’ve never played off for a direct spot into the Olympic trials before.”

Like Stoughton, McEwen is still seeking a title sponsor for his squad.

“I think we’ve been in the still-getting-to-know-them phase,” he suggested.

Suffice to say, McEwen is well-known in the curling world now.

BITERS: McEwen beat Alberta’s Randy Ferbey 6-2 in the Brooks final, with David Nedohin suffering the flu so bad he had to sit on a chair between throwing the last brick for Alberta. Ben Hiebert, Martin’s lead, was hospitalized due to the flu … Both Stoughton and Manitoba’s Rob Fowler will also be at this weekend’s Slam, with CBC televising playoff games … Alberta’s Valerie Sweeting beat Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones 6-3 in a semifinal in Saskatoon on Monday … Manitoba’s Cathy Overton-Clapham, Chelsea Carey, Jill Thurston and Jones will be competing at a women’s WCT spiel in Red Deer, Alta., this weekend.

COMING UP: On the local scene, another Junior Men’s Berth Bonspiel will be held in Morden while a Junior Women’s one goes in Ste. Anne this weekend … The MCT’s $11,000 Ken Kurbis Memorial Galasy Bonspiel will be held at the Rossmere C.C.

HOUSECLEANING: Terry Ursel of Plumas beat Brandon’s Kelsey Russill 7-4 in the final of an MCT women’s spiel in Carberry on Sunday to earn $1,000 … Brandon’s Lois Fowler defeated Arlene Deprez of Stonewall 7-2 in the women’s final of the Lloyd Gunnlaugson Memorial Senior Bonspiel to win $1,000. Pembina’s Murray Woodward downed Brandon’s Brian Fowler, Lois’s husband, 6-2 in the men’s final to earn $2,000.


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