Mike McEwen and his Fort Rouge team have successfully defended the Manitoba Viterra Championship which they won a year ago. McEwen defeated Reid Carruthers (West St. Paul) 8-7 Sunday afternoon at Stride Place in Portage in a re-match of the 2015 title game which had been won by Carruthers.
With the victory, McEwen and teammates BJ Neufeld, Matt Wozniak, and Denni Neufeld win the provincial championship and the opportunity to represent Manitoba at the Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s, Newfoundland/Labrador in March.
A four for McEwen on the eighth end was the key to the victory which puts McEwen on the very short list of teams who have won back to back championships. The list includes only Jeff Stoughton, who won two in a row twice plus three in a row once, and Vic Peters, Don Duguid, Ken Watson and Gordon Hudson who also won back to back titles.
END BY END:
Playing the opening end without the hammer, McEwen made an aggressive draw call with his last rock leaving a difficult tap-back for two but Carruthers wrecked and McEwen stole one on the opening end.
Carruthers came back with a deuce on the second and forced McEwen to a single to tie the game 2-2 after three ends.
After a blanked fourth end, McEwen made a hit through a port double kill, forcing Carruthers to draw for one facing a pair of McEwen stones. The score was 3-2 for Carruthers at the mid-game break.
After the teams traded deuces in the next two ends, the game turned on the eighth end. Carruthers was deep in the rings with both of his draws, leaving McEwen a hit for four and an 8-5 lead.
On the ninth end, Carruthers faced a pair and made the double kill but stuck for one and trailed 8-6 coming home.
The tenth saw Carruthers laying three when McEwen threw the final stone of the game, but the three were close together in the back of the rings and McEwen’s hit removed two of them for the 8-7 victory.