Team Sask. prevails 7-6 over PEI to open 2024 Brier

It wasn’t easy, but Saskatchewan opened with a 7-6 win over Prince Edward Island Friday night at the Montana’s Brier in Regina. 

Regina Sk, March 1, 2024.Montana’s Brier. Team Saskatchewan skip Mike McEwen during draw 1 against team PEI on opening day of the Montana’s Brier.
Curling Canada/Michael Burns Photo

The Mike McEwen rink out of Saskatoon’s Nutana Curling Club opened the game by giving up two to PEI’s Tyler Smith.

In the second end, McEwen hit for one. The official was called in to measure two rocks to see if Saskatchewan would score two, but it turned out the PEI stone was closer.

Saskatchewan turned the pressure on in the third end, forcing PEI to draw for one, making it a 3-1 game.

Saskatchewan was able to score two in the fourth end thanks to a great tap from McEwen on his last rock to tie the game.

A perfect draw from the Saskatchewan skip with his last in the fifth combined with a missed shot by Smith with his last led to a steal of two for McEwen’s rink, heading into the fifth end break with a 5-3 lead.

“I think they made maybe one little calling mistake that gave us a steal of two that kind of came out of nowhere, but they were solid tonight,” McEwen said. “We really had to dig deep tonight to pull that out.”

After the sixth end was blanked, PEI got a fortunate bounce at the 12-foot with their final stone in the seventh end, which resulted in a score of two, tying the game heading to the eighth.

McEwen was able to make the draw for one in that eighth end, then force a draw to the four foot for PEI in the ninth to allow Saskatchewan to have last rock heading to the tenth end.

Saskatchewan was in trouble in the tenth until third Colton Flasch made an incredible run-back double-takeout to clean things up for Saskatchewan. McEwen later made a hit-and-stick for one, giving the hometown Saskatchewan rink the win on opening night.

Flasch says the team’s experience was evident in the game. 

“We’re all fairly experienced, this is my seventh Brier, Mike’s ninth, so we know what we’re doing,” Flasch said. “But this is the first one in front of the home crowd for three of us, so it’s unique, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the week.”

This is Mike McEwen’s third time playing in front of a hometown crowd with his third different province. He represented Manitoba at the 2019 Brier in Brandon and Ontario at last year’s Brier in London.

He says he doesn’t feel like his team had nerves heading into the first game in front of the hometown crowd. 

“Maybe that’s not the case for some athletes in a home Brier, but honestly, I get more excited than anything,” McEwen said. “I don’t feel any more pressure than I normally would at any Brier, for that matter, so it just adds to the enjoyment for me.”

McEwen’s rink will face the defending champion, Team Canada’s Brad Gushue, on Saturday night in the evening draw that begins at 6:00 PM.

Pool A action gets underway with Draw 2 beginning at 1:00 PM at the Brandt Centre. 

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