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This article was published 9/2/2015 (896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON -- Mike McEwen's time will come.
But that time wasn't Sunday.
Reid Carruthers and his foursome -- third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samagalski and lead Colin Hodgson -- surprised just about everyone but themselves in defeating McEwen 5-3 at Westman Place in the final of the Safeway Manitoba men's curling championship.
'We beat the best teams in the world to get our chance at the Brier. I'd say we deserve it'-- Manitoba men's curling champion Reid Carruthers
After suffering a loss early in the event and qualifying from the B-side, the Carruthers foursome ran the table, including a playoff win over 11-time Manitoba champion Jeff Stoughton Friday night and back-to-back wins over McEwen in the 1 vs. 1 game Saturday night and again in Sunday's final.
Fluke? Not with a run like that. "We beat the best teams in the world to get our chance at the Brier," said Carruthers. "I'd say we deserve it."
It is the fourth Manitoba men's title for Carruthers -- who won three previous titles as second for Stoughton. It is the second Manitoba title for Samagalski, who previously won as a lead for Rob Fowler in 2012. It is the first Manitoba title for Moskowy, but his second trip to the Brier -- he previously represented Saskatchewan. Hodgson is from Alberta originally and will be competing in his first Brier.
Here's something to choke on -- in addition to being a former Saskatchewan representative at the Brier, Moskowy is also from Regina and, cough, a Roughriders fan. "Big Riders fan," Moskowy beamed after donning his Manitoba jacket for the first time.
"I was just saying to the boys, it's not as nice as green, but I'll take it. I'm not going to complain."
'It's been a great season and losing this final doesn't define our team at all'-- McEwen lead Denni Neufeld, filling in for his skip, who inexplicably vanished after the final
Sunday's loss was a bitter -- but familiar -- result for McEwen. The top-ranked team in the world after a sensational cash spiel season, McEwen is still looking for his first provincial men's title after what was his fifth loss in a Manitoba men's final since 2010.
McEwen has also lost a Manitoba semi-final during that same period and is easily the most accomplished active curler in Canada never to have won a provincial men's championship.
The loss to Carruthers was particularly hard to take for McEwen in that it came just hours after he'd vanquished his longtime nemesis at this event, Stoughton, in the semifinal. Three of McEwen's previous losses in the final -- and the previous loss in the semifinal -- came at the hands of Stoughton and so a 6-4 victory over Stoughton in Sunday morning's semi seemed to bode well for McEwen heading into Sunday afternoon's final against a first-year Carruthers team.
But Carruthers was equal to the task. A tight 1-1 game was blown open with a Carruthers steal of three in the sixth end, when McEwen couldn't hit the eight-foot with a tricky draw to the wings with the final rock of the end.
To their credit, the McEwen foursome battled back from the 4-1 deficit with steals in the seventh and eighth ends and then forced Carruthers to take a single in the ninth end. But a nice double peel in the 10th end by Samagalski of a pair of McEwen guards extinguished any designs the latter had on a game-tying deuce and Carruthers simply ran McEwen out of rocks to claim the 5-3 win and the provincial title.
McEwen's behaviour after the loss raised some eyebrows.
McEwen did an interview with Sportsnet immediately following the game but blew off the rest of the reporters waiting for him. But much worse, McEwen also blew off the closing ceremonies where the champion is crowned and event volunteers are thanked, leaving his three team members -- third BJ Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld -- to stand awkwardly at centre ice by themselves.
Neufeld was dispatched after the game to speak on behalf of his teammates and explain his skip's absence. "I'm not sure," Neufeld said when asked the whereabouts of his skip. "It's not ideal but I can understand he's super frustrated. To lose five finals -- people react differently to that. It doesn't mean he's a bad guy or a bad teammate. It is what it is, I guess."
Neufeld said Sunday's loss in the provincial final stung pretty much the same as all the others, but is eased somewhat by the fact it comes in a season in which the McEwen team is ranked first in the world after a dominating cash tour.
"It's been a great season and losing this final doesn't define our team at all," said Neufeld. "Sure it's disappointing and the season will seem like a little bit of a loss because we didn't go to the Brier. But we have some other events to play in and we want to finish strong."
One final fast fact: The Carruthers team curled out of the West St. Paul Curling Club this winter, making them the first Manitoba men's champion out of that club.
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