In Sunday’s final, Feb. 10, in the Viterra Provincial Men’s Championship played in Virden’s Tundra Oil & Gas Place, defending champion Team Reid Carruthers (West St. Paul) with Brandon’s Mike McEwen in as skip, defeated William Lyburn (Granite Club, Winnipeg) 5-3.
Carruthers’ path to the championship was not without a contest as they lost against Terry McNamee (Brandon) in game two, the Thursday noon draw. McNamee scored four points in the third end, to beat Carruthers 9 – 5, the team’s only loss.
Team Lyburn, sitting 45th in the national standings, fought their way to the Sunday afternoon game, beating out Gunnlaugson decisively, 6-2 in the early draw Sunday.
Lyburn proved to be a worthy opponent in the exciting championship game which went the full 10 ends.
Speaking to reporters following their win, Carruthers said, “I feel like we played well after we got our lesson from McNamee.”
Carruthers had invited McEwen (provincial champ 2016-2017) to join his team for the 2018-19 season. But, their roles flipped as Carruthers moved from last rock to play third and McEwen stepped in as skip. This had proved to be a winning combination in a recent Arizona tournament and McEwen/Carruthers carried on that success here in Virden.
Carruthers explained, “It’s not just about position, it also had to do with roles and responsibilities… I felt like we needed to have some hard conversations. This is a business, it isn’t just all about friendship. There were some things that needed to be said that weren’t, we had a couple of heated team meetings that were constructive and we were able to come through that.”
The McEwen/Carruthers team will be known as Team Manitoba in the Brier in just two weeks, where McEwen will curl before hometown Brandon fans.
“We’ve been close for a long time, so it makes it extra special to say I’ve now won a buffalo with the guy. It’s been hard battling against each other so long, so to do it together it’s surreal.”
Carruthers was full of praise for both the Virden facility and the local Viterra host committee.
“This facility is absolutely fantastic. This is one of the nicest facilities we’ve had a Provincial in, so for us it’s been wonderful. Good fan support, and the host committee has been taking care of us right down to the small things, like little things in the dressing room that made it more enjoyable.
“If the stands had been packed that would have been great, but the fans who did come out were awesome. Thanks for supporting us!”