The last two provincial men's curling champions will meet in the final of the 2017 Viterra Championship in Portage la Prairie.

Reigning champion Mike McEwen of Fort Rouge will face 2015 champ Reid Carruthers of West St. Paul at Stride Place at 3 p.m.

McEwen, BJ Neufeld, Matt Wozniak and Denni Neufeld got three in the first end and defeated Trevor Loreth of the Granite 8-2 in the semifinal Sunday morning.

“We weren't going to run them up and down the sheet and wait to go,” said McEwen who will be playing in his fourth straight final. “We wanted to put some pressure on them early and we've been able to do that every time we've had the hammer this event. Kind of put the pressure on them early and then to come back you have to make probably more precise shots and the surface was a little bit different from what they experienced earlier in the week. It was nice we were playing the simpler shots for the rest of the game and it was tough on them.”

“There is always one really good surprise story in the Viterra Championship and I think they're that story this week,” said McEwen on Loreth's great run in Portage la Prairie. “They should be really proud with how far they came.”

Carruthers beat McEwen 4-2 Saturday night in the 1-2 page playoff game.

Today's winner will advance to the Brier in St. John's, Newfoundland & Labrador next month,

“This is the best provincial championship in the country,” said McEwen. “It's a shame Manitoba can't send two teams. With the format changing next year we might have that opportunity for many years to come with the good crop of guys coming up so that's exciting in that aspect for Manitoba curling. We're going to have a good rep either way. I don't think there is much to choose between our teams with how we're both playing right now. We're going to have a great provincial champion one way or another.”

Loreth, Brad Haight, Ryan Lowdon and Brett Cawson had an amazing run at the 2017 Viterra Championship.

That run came to an end this morning when they lost to the defending champions.

“Totally different experience for us with the camera's and everything,” said Loreth. “Maybe a bit of nerves in the first end. More than anything we just made a bad judgment on the ice and Brad rubbed a guard on that double and it just kind of set the tone for the game. Giving up a three to those guys, even if we were on our game, you're probably not coming back against them. I think if we make that double and get out of that end, it may be a little bit of a closer outcome. The nerves were starting to go away a little bit and I think we would have been able to get it together in two and at least give Mike a bit of a game but those are the breaks.”

It was a memorable week for the Granite foursome.

“Amazing,” said Loreth. “Everything from a first class run event by Portage. This is my seventh one and hands down has been the best one I've been to. Not only because of the results. We said it opening night, from the banquet, to the volunteers, to everybody and then get hot like we did - it was pretty cool.”

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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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