McEwen, Sturmay and Carruthers post key wins ahead of cut-down day at Brier

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LONDON, ONT. – The favourites are in great shape at the Canadian men’s curling championship. The real battles were building around the playoff cutlines as the last few round-robin draws approached.
Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan (5-1) was a good bet to make the three-team cut in Pool A with Alberta’s Kevin Koe (6-0) and Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone (6-0).

Wild Card 2’s Reid Carruthers beat Nova Scotia’s Matthew Manuel 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon to leave both teams in must-win mode at 3-3.

“There’s a lot of first-timers here and a lot of those middle-tier teams that are grinding and fighting against each other,” Manuel said. “It’s a coin flip for a lot of the games going out there.”

Like in Pool A, the top two seeds were 1-2 in Pool B entering the evening draw at Budweiser Gardens.

Wild Card 1’s Brendan Bottcher (6-1) and Canada’s Brad Gushue (5-1) were ahead of Ontario’s Mike McEwen and Quebec’s Felix Asselin at 4-2.

Asselin needed an extra end to get by B.C.’s Jacques Gauthier 7-6 in the morning and McEwen kept pace in the afternoon with an 11-4 rout of New Brunswick’s Scott Jones.

Wild Card 3’s Karsten Sturmay was also in the mix at 3-3 after a 9-4 win over Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith.

“We were positioning our draws well, we were applying pressure and making them have to make the tough shots,” Sturmay said. “I think if we continue that moving forward, we have a good chance.”

Round-robin play wraps up Thursday with three draws. If tiebreakers are required, they would be played Friday morning.

Horgan dumped Saskatchewan’s Kelly Knapp 9-3 in the morning to put the pressure on Manuel and Carruthers in their showdown. Carruthers scored the lone deuce in the sixth end of a 6-2 win.

“We could win out and we still may not be in,” Carruthers said. “Unfortunately with the losses that have piled up we’re going to need some help to have a chance.”

Bottcher moved ahead of Gushue with a 10-6 win over Yukon’s Thomas Scoffin. Dunstone dumped Nathan Young of Newfoundland and Labrador 13-3 before a feature evening matchup against Koe.

Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories earned his first victory with a 9-3 win over Nunavut’s Jake Higgs.

If there’s a tie in pool standings at the end of round-robin play, head-to-head results will be the first tiebreaker. If more than two teams are tied, win/loss records in games between those rinks will be used.

The next tiebreaker would be accumulated draw shot distance.

“We’re fighters regardless of what the situation is,” Manuel said. “We’ll be wanting to win every single game. We’ll fight to the end.”

Page playoff qualifiers were set for Friday afternoon ahead of the seeding games in the evening. The Page playoffs were scheduled for Saturday and the semifinal and final will be played Sunday.

The winning team will represent Canada at the April 1-9 world men’s curling championship in Ottawa.

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