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Gunnlaugson powers way into Manitoba men’s curling final with clutch win over McEwen – Winnipeg Sun

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It’s an odd trend that you would not expect to lead to much success, but for some reason it’s working for Jason Gunnlaugson and his teammates this season.

“Pretty much every bonspiel this year, either the first or second game, we’ve lost to a team that the rankings would tell you maybe we shouldn’t have lost to,” Gunnlaugson said Saturday night at the Manitoba men’s curling championship.

“It comes down to the style that we want to play. We’re committed to it and sometimes it’s rocky early in the event until we learn things. As we learn things we perform better and better and better.”

True to form, second-seeded Gunnlaugson lost 8-2 to upstart Ryan Wiebe on Friday morning at Eric Coy Arena and had to fight his way back through the B-side.

A day and four wins later, Gunnlaugson and his teammates booked a spot in Sunday’s provincial final (2:30 p.m., Sportsnet) with a thrilling 8-6 victory over top-seed and defending champion Mike McEwen.

Gunnlaugson, third Alex Forrest, vice-skip and second Adam Casey and lead Connor Njegovan had to pull out all the stops and all the shots to beat McEwen, but they pulled it off and are now a win away from making their first trip the Brier.

“We just work so hard,” Gunnlaugson said. “I feel like maybe I’ve underperformed a few times in this event and I really worked hard to just mentally be in a great space to play. Definitely that was the case today and hopefully it’s the case (on Sunday).”

The Page Playoff 1 vs. 1 game against McEwen was a tense affair, with great shot-making on both sides. There were doubles, touch draws and precise runbacks, all contributing to multiple lead changes. It came right down to the last rock in the 10th end, with McEwen trailing by one and needing to come around a mess of guards and move a Gunnlaugson rock off the button. His shot was wide and heavy and Gunnlaugson stole a point to clinch the win.

“Mike definitely outplayed me today but my team played great and put a ton of pressure on,” said Gunnlaugson, a 35-year-old who is playing in his 12th provincial championship but has never won the Manitoba men’s title.

“If you make (Mike) make hard enough shots all the time, eventually you might get a half shot and that’s kinda what happened.”

McEwen, ranked fifth in the world, is still alive and will play Sean Grassie in the semifinal Sunday morning (8:30 a.m., Sportsnet).

Even if McEwen doesn’t win either game on Sunday, his team of Reid Carruthers, Derek Samagalski and Colin Hodgson will play in the Brier wild-card game on Feb. 28, as they are the top team on the Canadian Team Ranking System that currently doesn’t have a spot in the Brier.

“I’m excited to play in the morning,” McEwen said. “We’re still kicking and you’ve gotta be excited about that.

“We never eally felt too comfortable that game (against Gunnlaugson) but made a lot of good shots. We were one good shot away from pulling that out of the fire.”

McEwen will play Grassie for the third time in three days. McEwen won 6-1 in the round robin on Friday morning and 8-4 on Saturday morning.

“Maybe it will be our turn (Sunday),” Grassie said after a nail-biting 6-5, extra-end win over 2019 finalist William Lyburn in the Page Playoff 2 vs. 2 game.

“The first time we played them (Friday) we had a really good game. They stole three in the eighth end. (Saturday) morning’s game wasn’t as good for us. We know we can play with them based on the first game. We were only down 2-1 playing eight with the hammer (on Friday). We know from that, if we play well, then hopefully we’ll be competitive and then who knows, anything can happen.”

This is Grassie’s second time making it to Sunday at the Viterra Championship.

He lost the final 7-4 to Jeff Stoughton in 2013 in Neepawa.

His team of Tyler Drews, Daryl Evans and Rodney Legault doesn’t play on tour the way the McEwen and Gunnlaugson teams do, but the curlers have all been around and are feeling carefree heading into Sunday.

“We seem pretty relaxed out there, which I think bodes well when you’re on TV, playing against one of the top teams in Canada,” Grassie said. “I think the guys are just thrilled to be in this position. There’s no pressure on us. No one expects us to win so I think we’ll be loose and just keep playing the way we’re playing.”

Gunnlaugson will have hammer in the first end and choice of rocks for the final, which can be a big advantage in men’s curling.

However, between McEwen and Carruthers, they’ve won the last five provincial championships and they have all the experience in the world in these big games.

“I’ve won it three times and we’ve won it a couple of different ways,” McEwen said. “Once, definitely, we came through the semi. It would have been nice to have hammer in the final — that’s why the teams were really going at each other (Saturday night) — but that’s OK, we’re still alive.

“It can be an advantage to play in the semifinal as long as you win it. That definitely could play into our favour should we survive that game.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Ted_Wyman

SATURDAY RESULTS

6 p.m. Draw

Page playoff 1 vs. 1

Jason Gunnlaugson 8, Mike McEwen 6

Page playoff 2 vs. 2

Sean Grassie 6, William Lyburn 5 (EE)

2 p.m. Draw

B-side

Sean Grassie 8, Ryan Wiebe 5

William Lyburn 8, Steve Irwin 7

9 a.m., Draw

A-side

Mike McEwen 8, Sean Grassie 4

Jason Gunnlaugson 8, Steve Irwin 5

B-side

William Lyburn 9, Jacques Gauthier 3

Ryan Wiebe 8, Tanner Horgan 6

SUNDAY GAMES

Semifinal, 8:30 a.m.

Sean Grassie vs. Mike McEwen

Final, 2:30 p.m.

Jason Gunnlaugson vs. Sean Grassie or Mike McEwen

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Canada takes on Slovakia as World Juniors continue on TSN – TSN

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Team Canada has had its first taste of summer hockey at the World Junior Championship and will continue the quest for gold tonight against Slovakia.

Watch Canada vs. Slovakia at 6 p.m. ET on TSN4, TSN.ca and the TSN App. TSN’s coverage of Thursday’s games at the tournament begins at 2 p.m. ET with Finland facing Czechia.

Connor Bedard, a top prospect for the 2023 NHL draft, opened the scoring for Canada (1-0-0) and added an assist in a 5-2 win over Latvia (0-0-2) on Wednesday.

Sebastian Cossa got the start in net and made 22 saves for a Canadian squad quickly looking to build chemistry in Edmonton.

Canada’s head coach Dave Cameron said prior to the game he wanted to see “disciplined 200-foot hockey” and that the effort against Latvia was pretty much what he expected.

“It’s early, this is really only our second game, so you knew it was going to come in ebbs and flows,” said Cameron. “I like that we stuck with it and found a way to get that fifth goal which was huge and took a little bit of that pressure off towards the end of the game.” 

Canada has reached the podium in four of the past five tournaments, including gold medals in 2018 and 2020. Canada last won gold on home soil in 2015.

Cameron was quick to say that getting prepared to play hockey in August is not an issue.

“Not a chance, it’s what I do,” said Cameron. “I’ve done summer tournaments before … hockey’s hockey.

“It doesn’t matter the environment, the city, the number of people in the stands, anything like that. We’re hockey people and when that puck drops – game on.”

Slovakia (0-0-1), which features another top 2023 draft prospect in centre Dalibor Dvorsky, fell 5-4 to Czechia in their first match of the tournament on Tuesday. 

TSN’s Mark Masters reports that Dylan Garand is expected to start against Slovakia. 

Riley Kidney and Carson Lambos are projected to be scratches, while Brennan Othmann and Ethan Del Mastro will draw in for Canada. 

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Tom Brady Steps Aside From The Buccaneers: Details – HotNewHipHop

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Tom Brady is one of the best players in the entire NFL, and this season, he is looking to win his eighth Super Bowl title. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking good right now, and there is a real sense that they will win the NFC South, once again.

Unfortunately, Brady has had to put a halt to his training camp efforts as he is dealing with a personal matter. According to Ian Rapaport, Brady was not at practice today due to the issue and it seems like he won’t be returning to the field until after the team’s upcoming preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, which is set to take place on August 20th.

Brady is one of the oldest quarterbacks in the history of the league, and it is nothing short of impressive that he is still performing at such a high level. Many pundits believe the Buccaneers are favorites to win it all, yet again, although they will have to prove themselves following a disappointing end to the season in 2022.

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for The Match

This is a developing story so stay tuned to HNHH for all of the latest news and updates. 

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Watch Live: Oilers pay tribute to Ben Stelter – Sportsnet.ca

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Ben Stelter was an inspiration to many in the sports world and beyond.

Two months before his fifth birthday, Stelter was diagnosed with glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer. After meeting the Edmonton Oilers, he quickly became a motivation for the team during their run to the Western Conference Final.

Stelter died at the age six, his father had announced Wednesday.

The Oilers will speak publicly starting at around 12:30 p.m. ET, and their comments can be seen in their entirety on Sportsnet through the video player atop this page.

Note: This live stream has ended.

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