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 in his only game of the day 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 made short work of his opponent Thursday, jumping out to a 4-0 second end lead, then never looking 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 this evening.
Stoughton will play Dave Elias in one A-side qualifier this 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. Sean Grassie also advanced to an A-side qualifier with a 7-6 win over Bob Sigurdson on Thursday afternoon.
Grassie will play this morning against defending champion Rob Fowler, who advanced with a win Thursday morning over Neepawa's Jerry Chudley.
The fourth A-side qualifier this morning will feature Terry McNamee against Steen Sigurdson. McNamee advanced with a 10-5 win over Brendan Taylor Thursday morning, while Sigurdson -- the 20th seed -- advanced on the same draw with the biggest upset so far this week in a 9-8 extra end over Lyburn.
Lyburn, a semifinalist at last year's provincials and the fourth seed this year, stayed alive with a 10-3 win later in the day over Virden's Graham Freeman to advance to today.
"There's only one way for us now," said Lyburn, "and we got today over with and we're playing Friday. Let's go out and get a couple of Ws Friday and hopefully we're playing Friday night."
Exactly one-half of the 32-team field that started this event Wednesday morning has now been eliminated.