Brier Day 3: Saskatchewan’s McEwen improves to 3-0 with tight victory over Alberta’s Koe

Skip Mike McEwen watches the rock go down the ice as Team Saskatchewan takes on Team Prince Edward Island in Pool B action to open the 2024 Montana's Brier inside the Brandt Centre on Friday, March 1, 2024 in Regina. PHOTO BY KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

Taylor Shire, Regina Leader-Post

Team Saskatchewan continued their hot start at the 2024 Montana’s Brier.

On Sunday afternoon at the Canadian men’s curling championship in Regina, Mike McEwen and his squad beat Kevin Koe and Team Alberta 7-6 in front of 5,174 fans inside the Brandt Centre.

With the win, Team Saskatchewan — also featuring third Colton Flasch, second Kevin Marsh and lead Daniel Marsh — improved to 3-0 in Pool B after an opening 7-6 win over Prince Edward Island on Friday and a massive 7-6 win over two-time defending champion Brad Gushue and Team Canada on Saturday night.

Like the other two victories, Sunday’s game came down to the final shot for McEwen after Koe and company kept it close the entire game.

Starting the game with hammer, Koe elected to blank the first end before Saskatchewan put pressure on the four-time champion in the second end.

Koe was forced to try a long double runback, which was unsuccessful and resulted in a steal of one for McEwen and company to open the scoring.

In the third, Koe had an open draw for a deuce to take a 2-1 lead before McEwen responded with a hit-and-roll double takeout to score two of his own in the fourth to go up 3-2.

After a blank in the fifth end, Koe scored another two with an open hit-and-stick to go back on top 4-3.

Following another blank in the seventh, Koe missed a double takeout in the eighth leaving McEwen with an open draw for two to go on top 5-4.

In the ninth, Alberta looked to be in control, but a missed runback resulted in Saskatchewan sitting two after McEwen’s first stone.

Koe took out McEwen’s first rock before McEwen froze to Koe’s stone to sit one. That forced Koe to a single point, which tied the game 5-5 and gave Saskatchewan hammer in the final end.

With Koe sitting two after his final rock, McEwen — who curled at 95 per cent in the game — was left with a draw to the four foot or else a takeout to score one. He elected to play the takeout and spun both Alberta rocks just far enough to score one, picking up the 6-5 victory to improve to 3-0.

Meanwhile, Koe and Alberta — who came in as the second ranked team in Pool B — fall to 1-2.

Saskatchewan will be back in action on Monday night at 7 p.m. when they take on Matthew Manuel and Team Nova Scotia. The rest of the Pool B teams play on Monday morning.

Other Draw 5 scores

Canada (Gushue) 9, Quebec (Tremblay) 7

Gushue and Team Canada bounced back on Sunday after Saturday night’s loss to Saskatchewan with a 9-7 win over Julien Tremblay and Team Quebec.

Quebec scored a deuce in the first end, before Gushue picked up four in the second and a steal of three in the third to take a commanding 7-2 lead. From there, Quebec tried to claw back but the two-time defending champions cruised to victory.

Alberta (Sluchinski) 12, Nunavut (Latimer) 10

Almost a massive upset in this matchup as Nunavut held a 10-8 lead into the final end. However a miss by Nunavut skip Shane Latimer allowed Alberta’s Aaron Sluchinski a takeout to score four, which he made to pick up the 12-10 win to move to 2-0.

Northwest Territories (Koe) 8, Nova Scotia (Manuel) 7

Another game that came down to the wire, Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe was forced to make a shot to the four foot in the extra end after giving up three points in the 10th end. Koe improved to 2-1 with the win while Nova Scotia remains winless.

Draw 4 scores

Manitoba (Dunstone) 8, B.C. (Schneider) 5

After both Matt Dunstone and Regina product Catlin Schneider lost their opening games on Saturday, it was Dunstone and his Manitoba rink picking up their first win on Sunday morning over Team B.C.

Dunstone opened the scoring in the second with a fortunate bounce to score three before giving three back in the fifth. Dunstone scored another three in the sixth before winning 8-5.

Manitoba (Carruthers) 7, Ontario (Howard) 6

After each picking up wins on Saturday, Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers and Ontario’s Scott Howard squared off on Saturday morning.

Down 6-3 in the final end, Howard scored three points to force an extra end before Team Carruthers — skipped by Brad Jacobs — needed a hit and stick for the win in the extra.

After the hit, Jacobs’ final stone rolled farther than he would have liked but was still shot rock after a measurement as Jacobs, Carruthers and company improved to 2-0.

Alberta (Bottcher) 8, Yukon (Scoffin) 3

Top-ranked Brendan Bottcher and his Alberta squad improved to 2-0 with an 8-3 win over Thomas Scoffin and Team Yukon.

After curling at 96 per cent on Saturday, Bottcher and company were strong again, curling 94 per cent in their second game of the event. Alberta lead Ben Hebert, a Regina product, curled a perfect game at 100 per cent.

Northern Ontario (Bonot) 7, Newfoundland (Symonds) 6

Trevor Bonot and his Northern Ontario squad improved to 2-0 with a 7-6 win over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Andrew Symonds.

Up 6-5 and sitting one after his final shot, Symonds could only watch as Bonot made a great double takeout to score two and pick up the dramatic win.

*Draw 4 featured an attendance of 3,773

Draw 6 scores

Manitoba (Carruthers) 9, Northern Ontario (Bonot) 8

On Sunday evening, Carruthers picked up his second win of the day with a 9-8 extra-end victory over Bonot. The. back-and-forth game featured four deuces by each team before Jacobs made a hit-and-stick for a single in the extra.

Alberta (Bottcher) 8, Ontario (Howard) 2

Another dominant performance by Bottcher and company as they beat Howard and Team Ontario 8-2 on Sunday evening to move to 3-0.

Ontario didn’t score their first points until the seventh end and by then, it was too late. Hebert curled his second perfect game of the day, while second Brett Gallant also curled at 100 per cent in the evening draw.

B.C. (Schneider) 7, Newfoundland (Symonds) 2

After dropping his first two games, Schneider was motivated to pick up his first win a skip in the Brier — in his hometown — and he did just that, beating Symonds 7-2 to improve to 1-2

Yukon (Scoffin) 11, New Brunswick (Grattan) 7

This one was a bit of a wild game with Yukon scoring four in the fifth end to take the 5-3 lead before seeing New Brunswick go back on top 7-6 after eight ends.

Then in the ninth, Scoffin scored five to go up 11-7 and it was handshakes after that as Yukon picks up their first win of the event.

*Draw 6 featured an attendance of 3,874