Saskatoon's Stefanie Lawton and Winnipeg's Mike McEwen are among the top shooters so far at the Capital One Canada Cup in Moose Jaw, Sask.
Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton, Calgary's Kevin Koe and Winnipeg Kaitlyn Lawes (Jennifer Jones) also had the chance to keep their records clean pending Wednesday night action at the Mosaic Centre.
After a big 10-4 win Wednesday morning over Sherry Middaugh, Stefanie Lawton notched another one against 2012 Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner Heather Nedohin. Tied 1-1 after four ends, Lawton applied the pressure in five. Nedohin came up short on her draw on the last rock of the end, and Lawton scored four to take a 5-1 lead into the break -- and give the hometown Saskatchewan fans something to cheer about.
Nedohin closed the score to within two but Lawton kept the front open and didn't allow the Edmonton rink to generate any offence, running them out of rocks for a 7-5 victory.
In a game that featured some dramatic doubles and triples, Brad Gushue and Mike McEwen traded singles throughout the first five ends, going to the break tied at 2-2. In the sixth end, Gushue threw a hit and roll to lie one, but the rock was removed on a hogline violation, leaving McEwen an open draw for 3 and a 5-2 lead after six. Gushue tried to regroup but McEwen kept the pressure on for the next few ends, with the teams shaking after eight on an 8-2 McEwen victory.
"You could kind of see the air come out of them," said McEwen about the hogged-rock controversy and the effect of the the points on the scoreboard.
"They were forced to play a really tough shot the next end, a shot they wouldn't have played otherwise."
McEwen, making his fourth appearance at the Canada Cup, was happy to start off with a win.
"I don't know if we've ever won our first game," he said. "That feels good. We know we're going to have to win four or five games to get into the playoffs. Every game looks like a feature game you could put on TV, so we've got to win as many as we can."
Lawton says her crew, which has been the hottest team on the cash spiel circuit thus far, continues to look good, especially coming off of a slow year on last year's trail.
"I don't know if it's any one thing, we just seem to be more focused this year," said Lawton, adding two members of her team were coming off maternity leave last season as well.
In other games, Crystal Webster came out swinging after a morning loss against Lawes, scoring two in the first, then stealing the next two ends against 2011 Canada Cup finalist Chelsea Carey. Webster continued the pressure, allowing Carey a deuce in the fifth, but coming back with a single and a steal for a 6-2 score after seven. A hit that just skimmed by the guard allowed Carey to take two in the ninth, but it wasn't enough. The game ended in a 7-4 win for Webster.
After winning a close contest over Kevin Martin in the morning draw, John Epping faced 2012 Tim Horton's Brier finalist Kevin Koe in Draw 2. Trailing 3-2 at the break, Epping came back with a steal before giving up two on a big-weight Koe hit in the seventh. Another double in the ninth left Epping a chance to hit and roll out, maintaining hammer for the final end. Leaving rocks in play, Koe almost let Epping back in, but another hit sealed the 5-3 victory.
In the other women's game of Draw 2, Sherry Middaugh won her first, holding off a late charge from Cathy Overton-Clapham for an 8-5 victory. Middaugh came out strong, scoring three in the first end and stealing another three in the second. With the score 6-2 at the break, Overton-Clapham came back with steals in the next two ends to close the gap. A draw for two in the eighth put Middaugh ahead by four and Overton-Clapham wasn't able to catch up.
The winners of the event Sunday gain an automatic berth to the Olympic trials in Winnipeg next December.
- With files from the CCA