Reid Carruthers, Braeden Moskowy, Derek Samagalski and Colin Hodgson are the top seed for the 2017 Viterra Provincial Men's Curling Championship which begins February 7th in Portage la Prairie.

CurlManitoba made that announcement Tuesday morning at a news conference in Winnipeg.

The West St. Paul foursome got the nod over defending champion Mike McEwen.

"You know I think it probably could have gone either way, who was seeded one," said Carruthers who claimed his spot at the upcoming Olympic Curling Trials by winning the Canada Cup in Brandon this past December. "McEwen's the defending champion so I wouldn't have been upset if they were the number one seed but with the year we've had I guess our peers have taken notice and they gave us the honour of number one."

Carruthers, Moskowy, Samagalski and Hodgson captured the 2015 Provincial Men's Curling Championship in Brandon and are currently ranked number three on the World Curling Tour's Order of Merit.

"I definitely feel like we're where we want be," said Carruthers. "I was looking at this year like this would be the year to win the provincials and go on to win the Brier. We've been working really hard. It's just a matter of getting it done now."

For so many years – the number one question at this news conference was directed to Mike McEwen and the assembled media wanted to know, was this the year his team of B.J. Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld were finally going to win the province?

That question became obsolete when McEwen beat Matt Dunstone in the 2016 final in Selkirk.

"It's nice to not have those questions from you guys and even just that monkey or whatever it is on our back," said Wozniak. "We feel really good. We've obviously not had a stellar season by any means but as of late we've started to gain some momentum. We had an opportunity to win the last Slam that we were in. We just needed one extra break go our way and we were just in Phoenix and won that one pretty easily. Things are definitely looking up."

Matt Dunstone of Deer Lodge is the third seed followed by William Lyburn and Jason Gunnlaugson who both curl out of the Granite.

Dunstone explained how the experience he got from playing in his first Provincial Men's Championship last year in Selkirk is so beneficial heading into Portage.

"It shows you everything you need to know about this Championship. You obviously play so many games if you take the long way and last year I think we got in eight or nine games and no team here is a bad team. We've lost to some of the teams that are ranked 15 or 16. If you come out flat your going to get beaten out here. It's a tough event."

"We can also come in here with confidence," added Dunstone. "We've played all these teams before. We've beaten every single team in the top five. There's nobody here that we're particular scared of but obviously all the rest in the world for all these teams."

Wayne Ewasko, Randal Thomas, Dave Beaudoin and Gord Stelmack of the Lorette Curling Club will meet Trevor Loreth of the Granite in their opener next Wednesday while Richard Muntain, Nathan Asham, Brad Van Walleghem and Rodney Legault of Pinawa will face Derek Oryniak of the Granite.

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SCOREBOARD

Sunday, February 19th

HTJHL
Quarterfinals
Steinbach 8 Grunthal 0
(Huskies lead best of 5 series 2-1)
Mitchell 3 Springfield 2
(Mohawks lead series 2-1)

Keystone Junior Hockey League
Lundar 8 St. Malo 3

MJHL
Wpg Blues 3 Neepawa 2 (OT)

MFMHL
Quarterfinal
Eastman 5 Yellowhead 2
(Selects lead best of 5 series 2-1)

Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League
Eastman 4 Pembina Valley 2
Southwest 3 Brandon 1
Wpg Thrashers 6 Central Plains 5 (OT)
Wpg Wild 7 Yellowhead 1
Interlake 3 Kenora 3 (tie)
Parkland 7 Norman 2
(end of regular season schedule)

City AAA Midget Hockey League
Wpg Warriors 6 Eastman 2

NHL
Winnipeg 3 Ottawa 2
N.Y. Rangers 2 Washington 1
Detroit 5 Pittsburgh 2
Chicago 5 Buffalo 1
Nashville 4 Columbus 3
N.Y. Islanders 6 New Jersey 4
Toronto 4 Carolina 0
Tampa Bay 3 Colorado 2 (OT)
Boston 2 San Jose 1 (OT)
Anaheim 1 Los Angeles 0
Philadelphia 3 Vancouver 2

Monday, February 20th

MJHL
Winkler at Steinbach, 2:30 p.m.
Virden at Portage, 4:30 p.m.

NHL
Florida at St. Louis, 7 p.m.
Anaheim at Arizona, 8 p.m.

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