McEwen ends Loreth's surprising run, earns rematch with Carruthers
Mike McEwen finished the qualifying round undefeated and will take to the ice tonight at 7:45 p.m. in the Viterra men's provincial curling championship playoff round at Stride Place in Portage la Prairie. (Brian Oliver/The Graphic)
With the bright lights on and the TV cameras rolling, the surprise story of the provincial men’s curling championship came to a crashing halt.
Trevor Loreth, who won three straight games against higher-seeded teams on Saturday to reach Sunday’s semifinal, couldn’t produce any more magic and fell 8-2 to fellow Winnipegger Mike McEwen at Stride Place.
McEwen took advantage of a mistake by Loreth’s fourth Brad Haight in the first end to score three and never looked back.
McEwen will face top seed Reid Carruthers in the final Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. (Sportsnet).
It’s a rematch of Saturday night’s Page playoff game, which Carruthers won 4-2. It also features the last two Manitoba champions, as McEwen won last year and Carruthers took the title in 2015, beating McEwen in the final.
“We’re going to have a great provincial champion one way or the other,” McEwen said. “I don’t think there’s much to choose between our teams with how we’re both playing right now.”
McEwen will play in the Manitoba final for the fourth straight year and for the seventh time in eight years. Carruthers has one Manitoba title as a skip and four overall (three as the second for Jeff Stoughton).
“I’m excited,” McEwen said. “This is the best provincial championship in the country and it’s a shame Manitoba can’t sent two teams. With the format changing next year, we might have that opportunity for many years to come with a good crop of guys coming up. That’s exciting in that aspect for Manitoba.”
McEwen is referring to a planned change to the men’s and women’s national championships, in which the top world-ranked team that doesn’t win it’s provincial title will be added to the field for the Brier and Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
In Sunday’s semifinal, McEwen put big pressure on Loreth from the very beginning and cruised to the win. He said the ice changed from the night before under the TV lights and his team was more prepared to deal with it.
“It’s a huge advantage,” McEwen said of his team’s experience in big, televised games. “In our earlier days, we ran up against (Jeff) Stoughton early in the playoff rounds and the scoreboard looked similar. We’ve run into situations where the ice changes. We’re a little bit more prepared and experienced for that. We’ve been on the opposite side of that, so it’s a learning curve.”
It was a remarkable week for the Loreth foursome, which includes Haight, second Ryan Lowdon and lead Brett Cawson. The four curling buddies, who have been together for 10 years, had no expectations coming into the tournament and surprised everyone by making it to the final day.
“We had a hell of a day (Saturday), made a lot of shots, beat three really good teams,” Haight said. “I'm going to take the memories from (Saturday), not this little fiasco. What are you gonna do? We came out against one of the best teams in the world, we had a couple of misses in the first end and they jumped all over us and we could never get back in.”
Everyone on the Loreth foursome was holding his head high despite the loss. There’s certainly no shame in falling to a world-class team like McEwen’s.
“Even though it stings a bit now, I'm not ashamed,” Haight said. “We lost to a really good team out there. I wish we could have given them a good game. The best two teams are in the final, so that's the way it goes. Certainly, disappointed we couldn't make a few shots and make him have to make a few. But we had a great week … it was an awesome event. We're going to have a hard time getting back to the final three.”
Loreth showed a lot of emotion throughout the week as he talked about playing with three friends and having so much success on the big stage.
“It was amazing,” Loreth said. “To get hot like we did is pretty cool. I couldn’t do it with four better guys.
“They’re the two teams that should be there in the final. In all honesty we have no business getting to a final. Manitoba will have a great representative, no matter who wins.”
Just making it to Sunday was something special.
“It was very neat, a totally different experience for us with the cameras and everything,” Loreth said. “Maybe a bit of nerves played in the first end.”
McEwen, who has had more than his fair share of frustration trying to get out of Manitoba, with losses in five provincial finals, was impressed by what Loreth was able to achieve.
“I don’t want to put words in their mouths but they’re probably very, very excited about what they did this week,” McEwen said. “There’s always one really good surprise story in the Viterra Championship and they’re that story this week. They should be really proud of how far they came.”
Mike McEwen 8, Trevor Loreth 2
Mike McEwen vs. Reid Carruthers, 3 p.m., Sportsnet