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Saskatchewan into the Brier semis after 6-5 win over Manitoba

A 5-1 lead melted away, but the Mike McEwen team made sure to retain the hammer for the tenth end to deliver the playoff-winning shot for Saskatchewan.
Mike McEwen, left, and Matt Dunstone, right, react following Saskatchewan’s 6-5 final-shot victory on March 9 at the Brier.

REGINA - They’ve done it the hard way, but Mike McEwen and Team Saskatchewan have made it into the semifinals of the 2024 Montana’s Brier.

McEwen prevailed over the Matt Dunstone team of Manitoba 6-5 in the afternoon 3-4 playoff game to secure a spot in the semifinals against the loser of the 1-2 game between Brendan Bottcher of Alberta and Brad Gushue of Team Canada later on Saturday night.

It had been two must-win games in a row for McEwen after dropping a 9-7 decision to Bottcher on Friday. McEwen ended up taking on Jamie Koe and NWT and won easily 7-0, stealing six out of seven points.

McEwen was also up to his old tricks against Dunstone, scoring two in the first end and later stealing points in the fifth and sixth ends to build a 5-1 lead.

But Saskatchewan ran into trouble as Dunstone mounted a furious comeback with two in the seventh and one in the eighth to cut it to 5-4. In the ninth, McEwen opted to allow Dunstone to score one to preserve the hammer. In the tenth, he delivered on that final shot to earn the 6-5 win. 

Speaking to reporters afterward, McEwen reflected on his missed shot in the eighth end that led to Manitoba scoring to stay in the game. 

“Maybe it’s good I missed that, because I had to make a shot that for all intents and purposes might be what it feels like to have a shot to win the Brier,” McEwen said of his pressure-packed final shot he had to make at the end of the game. “So I think that was good that happened, that I missed that shot in the eighth, that I had to throw a precise shot to win, because should we get the opportunity that’s what it’s going to take to beat Gushue and Bottcher.”

McEwen now has a team into the Canadian men's semifinals for the first time since the 2017 Brier in St. John’s. This Brier at Brandt Centre has been extra special, receiving the support throughout of the home fans as Team Saskatchewan.

“St. John’s was amazing, but I wasn’t the home team so this is better. It’s going to go down as one of my best memories ever in my whole career no matter how this ends.”

As for Dunstone, he was proud of the Manitoba team’s ability to fight back into it. “It’s a tribute to our team, how resilient we are, that’s why we’re one of the toughest teams in the world to put away.”

But Dunstone was disappointed at yet another close-but-no-cigar finish for his team at a Brier.

“You kind of wonder when it’s going to be your time, you know,” said Dunstone. “Been close a lot of times. Again, proud of the group — I mean, we’ve been in must-win territory since it feels like Saturday when this event started… we’re going to be back, and we promise we will be in the same position again.”