All offence, all the time in Saskatchewan’s win over Alberta’s Sluchinski

It was fair to call Saskatchewan’s win on Tuesday afternoon at the Montana’s Brier a Western-style shootout.

The offence dominated play early and often in the Mike McEwen rink’s win over Alberta’s Aaron Sluchinski, 11-6.

Photo Courtesy: Curling Canada

Saskatchewan was in a bind early after Colton Flasch missed a hit on the wings, allowing Alberta to sit as many as three during skip stones. Sluchinski was able to make a wide-open draw to score his three points and take the early lead.

In the second, Saskatchewan sat as many as four during the end. After a triple take-out with Sluchinski’s first stone, McEwen had an open draw for three, which he made to tie the game.

McEwen says the second end was a good bounce-back for the Saskatchewan rink.

“They made some mistakes too in the second end to give us that three, but overall we really settled in and played a good seven ends after that first end,” McEwen said. “That’s not how you want to start a game, but fortunately, we’re not a team that dwells on things too long.”

McEwen was able to bury both of his shots behind a wall of guards in the third end. Sluchinski was able to make his draw for one, giving him the slim lead heading to the fourth end.

Things came together for Saskatchewan at that point. After forcing a couple of misses, McEwen was able to make a draw for four, giving Saskatchewan a 7-4 lead.

There were many rocks in play in the fifth end until Sluchinski threw his first rock, a take-out that removed some Saskatchewan stones from the house but also some Alberta rocks. McEwen threw a draw to limit Sluchinski to one, and the Alberta skip threw his last away, giving the home province a 7-5 lead heading into the fifth end break.

In the sixth end, McEwen had a double take-out available to score as many as three. He made no mistake, giving Saskatchewan a commanding 10-5 lead.

McEwen controlled the end in the seventh and was able to steal one, increasing the Saskatchewan lead to six.

In the eighth – and what turned out to be final – end, Sluchinski made a hit and roll facing four Saskatchewan stones to score a single, giving Saskatchewan the 11-6 win.

Saskatchewan’s first double-header is on Wednesday. Northwest Territories’ Jamie Koe is scheduled for the morning and Nunavut’s Shane Latimer in the evening.

McEwen says the Northwest Territories have been playing at the top of their game all week.

“I expect them to give us a good game. Our B-game is not going to do it,” McEwen said. “We’ll need our A-game, and if we can do that, we’ll be okay, but I expect from watching them, they’re very comfortable right now, so we’ll have to play good.”

The 2024 Montana’s Brier has seen its fair share of upsets. McEwen says this is the most bizarre Brier he’s seen.

“Alberta lost five games (Monday), 0-5, that’s wild,” McEwen said. Jacobs (Carruthers) lost (Tuesday) morning. Every single seed except for Matt Dunstone lost, but the top six teams other than Dunstone lost. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that, ever.”

Saskatchewan sits tied for top spot in Pool B with a 4-1 record, which makes their morning game against The Northwest Territories on Wednesday all the more important, as Jamie Koe’s rink also sits at 4-1.

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