OTTAWA — Yes, it was just one loss.

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This article was published 8/3/2016 (2303 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Yes, it was just one loss.

But Manitoba’s 9-4 defeat to Alberta here at the Tim Hortons Brier Monday night was a costly one — and in more ways than one.

Adrian Wyld/ The Canadian Press</p><p>Team Alberta skip Kevin Koe looks over the shoulder of his brother, Team Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe, Monday. Alberta’s Koe defeated Manitoba’s Mike McEwen 9-4 in the evening draw.</p></p>

Adrian Wyld/ The Canadian Press

Team Alberta skip Kevin Koe looks over the shoulder of his brother, Team Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe, Monday. Alberta’s Koe defeated Manitoba’s Mike McEwen 9-4 in the evening draw.

That the loss dropped Manitoba’s round robin record to .500 at 2-2 was bad enough. Making it worse was the night’s events also vaulted a traditional rival in Alberta two wins ahead of Manitoba at 4-1.

'You could get out of it with a good draw. Hit and roll, you're probably still giving up two and you're down 4-1 and probably not winning anyways'‐ Manitoba skip Mike McEwen on the math behind his risky decision in the fourth end

But perhaps worst of all was the manner of the lopsided loss, a good old-fashioned spanking for a McEwen foursome that on this night at least looked every bit like the Brier rookies they are.

In a week of firsts for Team McEwen, this was another one. "I’ve never been to the Brier before and got thumped," McEwen laughed Monday night. "That’s my first thumping at the Brier."

The fact McEwen was still laughing after the loss to Alberta is in itself notable — and should be heartening to Manitoba fans.

The entire McEwen foursome has been known to wear their emotions on their sleeves over the years and there have been more than a few meltdowns — on the ice and off of it.

Dialing back those emotions and keeping things on a more level plane has been something this team has talked about as a priority this season and the addition of two-time Brier winner Jon Mead to the squad this winter as a coach and mentor was in part for exactly that reason.

It seems to be working. Instead of slamming brooms and blowing off the media, McEwen stepped into a media scrum here Monday night and took every question, talking about keeping perspective on a long week and not losing sight of all the good things his team did on a night they shot 88 percent but Alberta skip Kevin Koe was quite literally perfect through the first six ends.

As McEwen saw it, a lopsided loss was actually the product of some razor-thin misses: a pre-game draw to the button that cost them the hammer; a narrowly missed triple takeout in the second end; and a freeze attempt in the fourth end that slid a just bit too far and turned a potential force into a decisive four-ender for Alberta.

A pick in the fourth end also didn’t help. And neither did McEwen’s risky decision that same end — while he was in the hack — to play a come-around instead of hitting and rolling off of one of two Alberta counters.

McEwen offered some interesting insight into his decision-making — and the calculations that go into it — as he discussed the call afterward.

"That was kind of a decision about whether to put the game on the line," said McEwen. "You could get out of it with a good draw. Hit and roll, you’re probably still giving up two and you’re down 4-1 and probably not winning anyways.

"You’re probably at a 90 per cent loss rate down 4-1 to a team like that."

The loss to Alberta has Manitoba tied for sixth place heading into a two-game day on Tuesday, but with a game in hand on three of the five teams ahead of them.

Manitoba plays a winless Northwest Territories team Tuesday morning and then Tuesday night plays a reeling Team Canada squad that opened at 3-0 but lost both their games Monday, including a 6-4 shocker to Prince Edward Island.

The class of the field, meanwhile, is a Northern Ontario squad that is the last remaining undefeated team in the field at 4-0 and looking every bit like the 2014 Olympic gold medallists in authoring a couple of highlight reel shots in a win over Canada Monday night.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.