After an uneventful opening day at the provincial men’s curling championship, there was a major upset on Thursday.
Top seed and defending champion Reid Carruthers suffered his first loss of the Viterra Championship with a 9-5 draw six defeat to Brandon’s Terry McNamee. The five-time provincial mixed champion scored a four-ender in the third end to seize the momentum.
“In the third end, we gave up a big end,” Carruthers said. “Unfortunately we missed a couple shots early in the end, then Mike (McEwen) and I also missed one shot which really hurt, and he made a nice shot for four.”
With McEwen throwing skip stones, Carruthers bounced back in the next end as they scored three points. But McNamee stole a single point in the seventh end and then recorded a deuce in the ninth end to clinch the win.
“Our team struggled a little bit with our releases,” Carruthers said. “Unfortunately when you’re playing a good team, you’ve got to make more shots than what we did. And they outplayed us and got the win.”
WATCH: Highlights Reid Carruthers vs Terry McNamee
With the loss, Carruthers will have to take the long route to the playoffs. They’ll need to win three straight games to qualify for the eight-team playoff round.
WATCH: Reid Carruthers Post Game Reaction
Carruthers earned the first of those three victories later on Thursday. In a must-win contest for the defending champion, Carruthers and company got back on track in the late draw. They scored three points in the second end and four more in the fourth end on their way to a 10-1 win over Jeff Stewart from the Gladstone Curling Club. They’ll next face the Fort Rouge’s Ty Dilello in another must-win game at 12:15 pm on Friday.
It was smooth sailing for the rest of the top seeds. Second seed Jason Gunnlaugson (Morris), third seed Braden Calvert (Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club), fourth seed Tanner Lott (Winnipeg Beach), and fifth seed Dennis Bohn (Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club) all won their A-side games. All four teams will play in playoff qualifying games first thing on Friday at 8:30 am.
WATCH: Highlights Jason Gunnlaugson vs Graham Freeman
In all, 12 more teams were eliminated on Thursday to cut the 32-team field in half. Stewart, Grant Shewfelt (Baldur), Robert Daudet (Granite), Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge), Dean North (Carman), Tyler Drews (Fort Rouge), Greg Todoruk (Dauphin), Kelly Marnoch (Carberry), Graham Freeman (Virden), Randy Neufeld (La Salle), Brett Walter (Elmwood) and 2002 provincial champ Mark Lukowich (Granite) all bowed out with their second loss of the event.
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The provincial men’s final is scheduled for 2:30 pm on Sunday. The winner of the Viterra Championship will represent Manitoba at the Brier next month in Brandon, Manitoba.
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