Manitoba’s Mike McEwen beat Ontario’s Glenn Howard 5-4 in the Brier’s Wild Card Game on Friday night at the Leon’s Centre.
After McEwen’s vice Reid Carruthers made a key double-peel late in the tenth end, the Manitoba skip had a clear path to draw for the victory.
“That was a big shot. The way the guards were set up it was going to be a little uncomfortable drawing because of where our corner guard was. So that was a huge shot,” McEwen said of the set-up by Carruthers. “I was able to give myself the draw to the button, we knew that path.”
While the result was exactly what McEwen hoped for, the game did not get off to the best of starts for the team from Winnipeg. Some missed shots by the 39-year-old early on, kept things close the entire game.
“They (Howard’s Rink) had us sweating real bad the first half, and we played Houdini and escaped,” McEwen joked after the game.
A solid effort by McEwen’s front end put the rink in a strong position heading into the final few ends of the game, leaving no opportunity for Howard to jump ahead.
The win means McEwen’s rink becomes Team Wild Card at this year’s Brier, completing the field of 16 teams.
“That’s about as uncomfortable a game, other than a Brier final, that you can get,” McEwen said of the high-stakes nature of the Wild Card match-up. “To play in that kind of atmosphere, I think that’s a good experience for anybody.”
When the Brier officially gets underway on Saturday afternoon, Team Wild Card will be seeded in third-place, and will compete in Pool A in the round-robin. Their first official game is against Matt Dunstone Saskatchewan rink on Saturday night.