Reid Carruthers, Braeden Moskowy, Derek Samagalski and Colin Hodgson are one win away from capturing their second provincial men's curling championship in three years.
The West St Paul foursome stole two in the eighth end and defeated Mike McEwen of Fort Rouge 4-2 in the 1-2 page playoff game at the 2017 Viterra Championship in Portage la Prairie.
“We've played in some high pressure situations,” said Carruthers who also won three provincial titles playing second for Jeff Stoughton. “We're definitely all feeling it. I'm feeling it. I felt my heart rate going during a couple of those shots so I was doing my breathing to try and calm that. Both teams were feeling it for sure. You can just in the tone of our voices out there.”
"There's pressure,” added Carruthers who found a piece of the button with his final rock draw of the 10th end for the win. “We're all feeling it. It's not a club game out here. We're playing for a lot and a lot of us are doing this as a full time, almost like a career right now. We all take it pretty seriously.”
Carruthers, Moskowy, Samagalski and Hodgson won the 2015 provincial title and the 2016 Canada Cup in Brandon and they're looking forward to getting back on the ice at Stride Place on Sunday afternoon.
“Portage has been nice to us, just as nice as Brandon has,” Carruthers said. “We won the Canad Inns earlier in the season. We're back at the same hotel so it's almost like we're playing in that same event. Just at a little nicer arena, that's for sure. We earned ourselves a rest, that's about it. Rest and hammer I believe.”
Carruthers got the break of the night in the eight end.
With the score tied 1-1, McEwen watched his last rock draw attempt to the full eight foot slide down the ice and then pick just in front of the hog line.
The rock never had a chance to reach the rings.
“We probably played well enough to win that game and sometimes luck is on your side” said McEwen. “Today it definitely was not on our side.”
McEwen, BJ Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld will face Trevor Loreth of the Granite in the semifinals at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
“I think they're a different team then when we beat them on Friday,” said McEwen. "Not taking anybody for granted. They're putting away some good teams so we're going to have to be sharp tomorrow because it looks like they're playing pretty loose. There was lots of good emotions going on there beside us tonight. You could tell. We're going to have to be sharp in the morning.”
Loreth, Brad Haight, Ryan Lowdon and Brett Cawson downed Jason Gunnlaugson of the Granite 8-3 in the 3-4 game.
“Unbelievable,” said Loreth. “Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine anything like this to happen. We are playing the best curling we have ever played in our life. Are we in over our heads? Probably but it's crazy and it's fun.”
Haight, who is throwing the last two rocks, was spectacular on Saturday in their 6-5 victory over William Lyburn in the afternoon and over Gunnlaugson on the evening draw.
He made a number of last rock angle raise or straight back raise hits and his draw weight was in his back pocket.
Loreth was more than impressed.
“There was a couple of times today I called a shot and he looked at me and said, 'No. I'm playing this.' And at this point you let him go because he's on fire. He's seen it and it's good. It's fun to watch.”
Loreth, Haight, Lowdon and Cawson are playing in their seventh Provincial Men's Championship and it's the first time they qualified for the Playoff Round and now – it's a semifinal match with the reigning Manitoba champions on Sunday morning.
“To be perfectly honest we don't want to embarrass ourselves out there on TV,” said Loreth. “We want to have a good game. Take them deep, to eight, nine or 10 ends. Ideally we'd like to be one down coming home with or one up without. Keep it close and see what happens.”