Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Inconceivable, you say?

McEwen pounds Martin in 4 ends

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PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE -- Curling fans probably won't see this again.

Mike McEwen and former Olympian Kevin Martin shook hands after four ends Sunday evening in their B-side qualifier as McEwen put up a 7-1 victory at the 2012 Canad Inns Prairie Classic bonspiel.

McEwen, with the hammer in the fourth end, scored four points and Team Martin immediately extended their hands.

"That doesn't happen too often against that team," said McEwen, the two-time defending Canad Inns Prairie Classic champion. "Normally, they're not a team you're going to put away that quick. They're a great team, they'll claw back."

The win qualified Winnipeg's McEwen for today's quarter-finals at 10 a.m. along with the Glenn Howard team from Coldwater, Ont., which beat Winnipeg's William Lyburn 6-3 on Sunday in the other B-qualifier.

Today, the men's semifinals are at 2 p.m. followed at 6 p.m. by the final. Organizers said there will be free admission for the final.

The men's event carries a $58,000 total prize purse with the winning team getting $18,000.

Edmonton's Martin, the 2010 Olympic gold medallist, appeared to be having trouble with his draw weight, leaving the door open for McEwen.

"We got an early lead (3-1 after three ends) that was kind of built upon some last-rock misses from their team that maybe we didn't expect," McEwen said. "So they started to push the issue and we came to play in the fourth end. We didn't really give them any budge room."

Howard, the men's 2012 World Curling champion, put up deuces in the first, third and fifth ends to head to today's quarter-finals.

"We're in the final eight and in the money so that's where we want to be," Howard said with a smile. His team won three straight Canad Inns Prairie Classics from 2006-2008.

"We've loved this event since Day 1. We love the fact that we stay in the (Canad Inns) hotel attached to the curling club, you have restaurants right there, you can walk down from your room right to the curling club. I've never been in another venue that's like this," Howard said. "The ice had been a bit suspect over the years and that caused a few teams not coming. This year, it's the best its ever been, and the best field. They've got the right formula now so if they continue to do that, this is going to be one of the best tour stops."

Howard and Martin have already punched their tickets to the 2013 Canadian Curling Trials, earning the first two direct-entry berths last season.

The Jeff Stoughton and Brad Gushue teams won the A-qualifiers on Saturday. In C-qualifiers late Sunday, Martin downed Heath McCormick 8-6, while Rob Fowler was taking on John Epping, Mark Keen was playing Kevin Koe and Niklas Edin was facing Lyburn.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 22, 2012 C5

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