Mike McEwen beat Jason Gunnlaugson 4-3 in 11 ends in the Tim Hortons Brier wild-card game Friday night to earn a spot in the main competition of the Canadian men's curling championship.
The wild-card game, which features the two highest-ranked teams in Canada that didn't already have a spot at the Brier, made its debut in Regina.
With the victory, McEwen claimed the fourth seed in the Brier and will compete in Pool A, opening Saturday against 12th-seed Thomas Scoffin of Yukon when the Brier's main 16-team competition begins.
Here’s a look at the two pools and each team’s seeding.
1. Canada – Brad Gushue
4. Wild-Card - Mike McEwen
5. Alberta – Brendan Bottcher
8. Nova Scotia – Jamie Murphy
9. British Columbia – Sean Geall
12. Yukon – Thomas Scoffin
13. Newfoundland and Labrador – Greg Smith
16. Northwest Territories – Jamie Koe
2. Manitoba – Reid Carruthers
3. Northern Ontario – Brad Jacobs
6. Ontario – John Epping
7. Saskatchewan – Steve Laycock
10. Quebec – Mike Fournier
11. New Brunswick – James Grattan
14. Prince Edward Island – Eddie MacKenzie
15. Nunavut – David St. Louis
Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rink stole the show at last year’s Canadian championship after winning the first Brier of his career in front of delirious hometown fans. Gushue’s squad will represent Team Canada in Regina and will be joined by familiar names such as Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher.
First-timers will include Ontario’s John Epping, Quebec’s Mike Fournier and Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Steve Laycock and his Saskatchewan crew will have the honour of being the hometown team at this year’s Brier.
The first draw goes at 2 PM with Laycock playing Quebec,
The winning team will represent Canada at the World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Ford of Canada, March 31-April 8 at Las Vegas. The winner will also defend its title as Team Canada in the 2019 Tim Hortons Brier at Brandon, Man., March 2-10, and should it medal at the Worlds, will also earn a berth into the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup (site/date TBA).
The Tim Hortons Brier has been played in 31 cities across Canada, from Victoria to St. John’s. Manitoba and Alberta are tied for most victories with 27 apiece. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have yet to win.
The Brandt Centre, part of the Evraz Place complex, has hosted many major curling events, most recently the 2011 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, won by Canada’s Jeff Stoughton. The Tim Hortons Brier has been played here twice — in 2006 (won by Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard) and 1992 (won by Manitoba’s Vic Peters).
Previous Regina-hosted Briers took place in 1976 (won by Newfoundland/Labrador’s Jack MacDuff) and 1955 (won by Garnet Campbell of Avonlea, Saskatchewan’s first Brier title).
The Brandt Centre also staged the 1998 and 2008 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, 2002 World Financial Group Continental Cup, 2001 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials and the 1983 World Men’s Championship (won by Canada’s Ed Werenich).