Mike McEwen and Glenn Howard earn first qualifying victories at Canadian Curling Trials – Spirit Sport1

Corryn Brown, Glenn Howard, Laura Walker, Liverpool, Mike McEwen, Olympic Trials, qualifying victories, rials Wednesday in Ottawa., Scheidegger, sports, Suzanne Birt
Pair of Men's November Olympic Trials Available at Ottawa Tournament
spiritsport1 / CBC Sports · Posted: Sep 23, 2021 12:19 AM ET |
Team Mike McEwen claimed their first victory Wednesday in Ottawa at the Canadian Curling Trials. (Curling Canada / Twitter)

Mike McEwen and Glenn Howard each had opening victories at the direct entry event of the Canadian Curling Trials Wednesday in Ottawa.

McEwen of Winnipeg defeated the team led by Colton Flasch of Saskatoon in a 5-3 game at the RA Center, while Howard defeated Matt Dunstone of Regina in a 9-5 battle.

It all started with scoreless McEwen and Flasch on the board with points in the second and third ends. But McEwen bounced back in the fourth end, quickly amassing four points in the sixth end.

The two teams were only able to collect one more before the finish.

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In the other game, the Dunstone team dried up after the second end, only scoring points again only in the sixth and eighth.

Two spots for men and three for women are available for the main playoffs at the November Tim Hortons Curling Trials in Saskatoon.

The other competitor in the men’s event is Jason Gunnlaugson. The women’s peloton includes rinks led by Suzanne Birt, Corryn Brown, Kelsey Rocque, Casey Scheidegger and Laura Walker.

Pre-trial action
Also on Wednesday, the direct entry action of the Canadian Curling Pre-Trials saw Ashley Howard, Jessie Hunkin (replacing new mom captain Robyn Silvernagle), Laurie St-Georges and Kerry Galusha pick up big wins.

Two teams will emerge from the three-elimination draw to play in the Home Hardware Prelims Oct. 26-31, which will determine the final two men’s and women’s entries for Saskatoon.

Howard was the first to play, beating Kaitlyn Jones 8-4 in nine ends.

Hunkin beat Lauren Mann 12-2 in eight ends, while Galusha denied the victory to Sarah Wark with a 10-4 record in nine ends.

St-Georges lost Jill Brothers 8-4, also in nine ends.

“First win, and it’s a big win,” said St-Georges. “It was a great game; lots of opportunities and we played well, we had some big shots at the end. The first win is always nice; we’ll just keep trying to stay in the ‘A’.”

The brothers were hoping there would be an outside chance his team – ranked 47th in the world – could find their place in the trials, held next month in their hometown of Liverpool, Nova Scotia.

A five-time national women’s championship participant, she was stunned to receive a recent email with an unexpected invitation to participate in a new qualifying event with two places for the preliminary practice in play.

“I jumped out of my chair at work and screamed like a schoolgirl,” Brothers said Wednesday. “My colleague was terrified.”

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Criteria revised on long qualifying routes
The games are part of the long road to qualifying for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials Nov. 20-28, which will determine Canada’s four-player squads for the Beijing Games.

The pre-test teams qualified based on their world curling team ranking in July. Three of the four returning players from the declared 2020-21 rosters were needed.

Curling Canada revised its qualifying criteria because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of the 2020-21 events that would normally have determined the grounds.

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Six of the eight men’s entries are Winnipeg-based teams with Team Shaun Meachem (Saskatoon) and Team Vincent Roberge (Etchemin, Qc) the only exceptions.

Brendan Bottcher, John Epping, Brad Gushue, Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe are the men’s teams that have already booked their tickets for the main events.

The four women’s teams to do the same are Kerri Einarson, Tracy Fleury, Rachel Homan and Jennifer Jones.

With files from The Canadian Press

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