Mike McEwen is looking to emerge from the shadows.
The Winnipeg curler moved to 4-0 at Capital One Canada Cup of Curling Thursday with am 8-6 win over 2010 Olympic champion Kevin Martin.
Not bad for a curler who has never been to a Brier.
The chief reason why McEwen has never had that honour is sitting right beside him at 4-0 — fellow Manitoban Jeff Stoughton.
“Looking at the field, we were thinking 3-1 would be awesome after the first two days,” said McEwen. “We’re pretty pumped with where we’re at and if we play well (Friday), we have a chance to get first place.”
There is also a good chance that Friday’s McEwen-Stoughton game in the evening draw could decide who gets a bye to Sunday’s final.
Stoughton — a nine-time Manitoba champion, three-time Brier winner and two-time world champion — has beaten McEwen twice in the provincial final in the last three years. McEwen and his rink of third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld have lost three straight Safeway Championships — the Manitoba provincial men’s championship — after Rob Fowler claimed the title.
“A little in the media and for the fans that only tune-in come nationals or provincials, we might kind of fly a little under the radar,” conceded McEwen. “There’s some pretty big names when you’re talking Stoughton, Martin, Howard — it’s kind of tough to get in there in that grouping.”
On the World Curling Tour, the McEwen rink has more than held their own with all of the big names of Canadian curling. They have won three Grand Slam titles since the fall of 2010. They beat Stoughton in the final of the World Cup of Curling and beat him in the semis when they claimed the first of two straight Canadian Open titles.
“On the cash circuit we have a pretty good record against him, but he’s an animal when it comes to provincials,” said McEwen. “He’s pretty tough to beat.”
In the morning draw McEwen came back from 4-2 down early to beat John Epping 9-8 in an extra end. The McEwen rink is loose and playing with confidence.
“We have gotten behind the eight-ball in a few games and we seem to pull through, so I do like what I’ve been seeing,” said McEwen.
Against Martin, McEwen gave up points in the first two ends against a Martin rink that was fighting to stay alive. McEwen tied the game and then threw a great triple takeout to steal two points to grab the lead. Another steal gave them a 5-2 lead at the break and they held off Martin from there.
Glenn Howard finished Thursday with a huge 12-4 win over Kevin Koe. The win leaves both rinks tied at 2-2 as they sit tied for the final semifinal berth. Martin and Epping both fall to 1-3 and out of contention. Brad Gushue is 0-4.
Koe — who features Moose Jaw’s Pat Simmons at third — beat Gushue 8-7 in the morning draw.
In the afternoon Stoughton beat Martin 10-4 and Howard beat Epping 10-4.
It’s a much tighter fight in the women’s side of the event as Stefanie Lawton is alone at 4-0. Heather Nedohin’s 8-3 over the Jennifer Jones rink moved her into second place at 3-1, while Jones, Sherry Middaugh and Crystal Webster are all 2-2.
Lawton beat Jones 7-5 and also beat Chelsea Carey 6-5.
Carey beat Cathy Overton-Clapham 7-4 Thursday night.
Nedohin beat Middaugh 8-6 and Webster beat Overton-Clapham 8-4 in the morning draw, while Middaugh beat Webster 8-7 earlier in the day.