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Team McEwen wins Saskatchewan Tankard, will represent province on home ice at Brier

Less than a year after being assembled, Team McEwen has climbed to the top of the mountain of Saskatchewan men’s curling and is determined to climb even higher.

Competing at the SaskTel Tankard in Saskatoon this week, Team McEwen proved why they were the province’s top-ranked team going a perfect 7-0 to capture the provincial title and punch a ticket to the 2024 Brier.

“We deserve to have the chance to represent Saskatchewan at the Brier,” skip Mike McEwen said. “Obviously, we had to go earn it, we still had to win this weekend. But I felt like everything we did leading up to this point, we did well and we’re certainly a deserving representative of Saskatchewan.”

Team McEwen took advantage of early mistakes from the Rylan Kleiter rink at the Nutana Curling Club on Sunday, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after the first three ends of the Tankard championship final.

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Scoring a single in the ninth end to take a commanding 7-3 lead, Team McEwen only had to wait to run Team Kleiter out of rocks in the 10th end to secure the victory.

Click to play video: 'Team Ackerman to represent Saskatchewan at Scotties Tournament of Hearts'

Team Ackerman to represent Saskatchewan at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

As a result, the group of McEwen, third Colton Flasch and twin brothers Dan and Kevin Marsh will represent the province on home ice when Regina plays host for the Brier.

“I had the chance in 2017,” Flasch said. “We lost in the Tankard final and that was the [Brier] in Regina. It was good to get this one and get a chance to go back. It’s going to be fun, crowd on your side … nothing better.”

While it is Team McEwen’s first crack at the Brier as a group, it won’t be individual members’ first trips to the Canadian championships.

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McEwen is a veteran of the last eight Briers with Manitoba and Ontario, Flasch will be embarking on his seventh trip to the Brier, while the Marsh brothers will be off to their third Brier.

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Three-time Brier champion Brent Laing, who jumped on board as Team McEwen’s coach when the team formed last spring, said he’s expecting a wild atmosphere in Regina.

“I played in a Brier in Regina and it’s just a great city to play in,” Laing said. “They’re super proud to wear the green and white and hopefully end that super long Brier drought. It’s not [Toronto] Maple Leaf long, but it’s too long.”

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With Sunday’s victory, McEwen made history as the only skip ever to win three provincial titles while leading three separate provinces.

After skipping Team Manitoba and Team Ontario at the national level, it’s a mark he’s proud to set now with Team Saskatchewan.

“This is my third home Brier,” McEwen said. “I had one in Manitoba, in Brandon in my birth city. I had one in London last year and now Regina, so I feel just very fortunate to get these opportunities to play in an environment that any player just dreams about playing in.”

While capturing a provincial championship and preparing for a Brier at home isn’t a new feeling for McEwen, it’s one that he’s taken more stock in as the years go by.

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“I’ve definitely had that journey where my first [home Brier] didn’t feel as good as it should,”  McEwen said. “I had to kind of learn to embrace it and now I’m at a point in my career where I’m as excited as I could be.”

Team McEwen will also aim to become the first Saskatchewan rink to capture a Brier championship in 44 years, with the Rick Folk rink last winning a Canadian title in 1980.

That sets up a potential storybook scene in Regina, if Team McEwen can challenge the best rinks in the country.

“Nothing would make them feel better than to make a run,” Laing said. “If they can make a run, get into the playoffs, who knows? Maybe that drought can come to an end at a hometown Brier, that would be a pretty cool story.”

Team Saskatchewan will open the 2024 Brier on the first evening of draws March 1.

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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