NEEPAWA — Mike McEwen survived a major scare, Willie Lyburn stayed alive and Jeff Stoughton kept right on rolling at the 2013 Manitoba men's curling championship Thursday.
McEwen quickly fell behind 4-0 to Stonewall’s Jared Kolomaya after just the second end Thursday afternoon, but outscored Kolomaya 10-2 the rest of the way to escape with a deceptively lopsided 10-6 result.
McEwen took full responsibility for the poor start, noting he had no excuses for being light with a draw attempt in the first end that handed Kolomaya a steal of three.
"Bad time to pull the string. I’ll take full blame for that. It didn’t pick or anything. I was light," McEwen said afterward.
But in the end it didn’t matter as McEwen stole deuces in the fourth and fifth ends to take the lead right back at 5-4 heading into the fifth-end break. The two teams shook hands without completing the ninth end.
Meanwhile, Stoughton jumped out to a 4-0 second-end lead of his own and then never looked back en route to a 9-2 victory in just seven ends over West Kildonan’s Trevor Loreth.
With the victories, Stoughton and McEwen — the two pre-event favourites — are both 2-0 and are now just one more win away from qualifying for the playoff round that begins Friday evening.
Stoughton will play Dave Elias in one A-side qualifier on Friday morning, while McEwen will play Dennis Bohn in another A-side qualifier.
Elias advanced with a 12-6 win over Rae Kujanpaa Thursday afternoon, while Bohn advanced with an 11-7 win over Daley Peters. In the only other game Thursday afternoon, Sean Grassie advanced to an A-side qualifier against Rob Fowler with a 7-6 win over Bob Sigurdson.
The fourth A-side qualifier on Friday morning will feature Terry McNamee against Steen Sigurdson. Those two teams and Fowler advanced with victories on Thursday morning.
Lyburn, a semifinalist at last year’s provincials and the fourth seed this year, stayed alive with a 10-3 win on the 4 p.m. draw over Virden’s Graham Freeman.
It was a must win for Lyburn, who was bounced to the B-side Thursday morning with a loss to Sigurdson.
In other elimination games on the 4 p.m. draw, Kelly Robertson beat Brendan Taylor 8-7, Scott Ramsay beat Greg Todoruk 10-3, Jerry Chudley beat Wayne Ewasko 7-5 and Mark Lukowich beat Rene Kolly 9-6.
The Safeway Championship continues with five more B-side games at 7:45 p.m.: Scott Madams plays Peters, Travis Graham plays Kolomaya, David Kraichy plays Sigurdson, Lukowich plays Rae Kujanpaa and Ramsay plays Loreth.