PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN. — Day two of the Viterra Championship went pretty much according to plan; minus an upset in the early draw on Thursday.
Fifth seed Jason Gunnlaugson was the first top seed to suffer a loss as they were handed an 8-5 defeat by the Sean Grassie foursome from the Fort Rouge Curling Club.
Gunnlaugson was forced to play the final five ends with only one sweeper after lead Rob Gordon, broke the head of his brush when he slammed it down in anger.
After last season’s controversy over technological advancements in broom pads, new rules were introduced this season that allows curlers to use only one broom per game.
“You’re only allowed one broom head per person and once it goes, if it’s out of anger, like in my case, then that’s it, you’re not allowed to sweep anymore,” Gordon said. “I was a little frustrated obviously, but lesson learned.”
Players are allowed to replace their brush only if it malfunctions and they can’t even trade brooms with teammates. Gordon was well aware of the new rules as he admitted after the game this was the second time this has happened to him this season.
“We were laughing. That’s a pretty sweet curling position when you can throw the first two rocks and then hang out,” joked Gunnlaugson. “It really sucks. It wasn’t even anything crazy. A rule that has to be in place but when it gets used like that, it’s kinda unfortunate.”
Thursday morning’s other games saw third seed Matt Dunstone advance to a playoff qualifier game with a 6-2 triumph over Randy Neufeld. The young guns scored deuces in the second, sixth and eighth ends in what was a battle between the 2016 Manitoba junior champion and the 2016 provincial senior champion.
“We find ourselves near the final, right where we want to be and that was a tough game out there today,” said Dunstone. “We played against a bunch of veterans who have been here multiple times so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy one, but we’re playing good.”
Fourth seed William Lyburn from the Granite Curling Club also advanced to an A-Side qualifier with a convincing 7-1 victory over Hayden Forrester. Forrester’s rink was being skipped by Andrew Clapham in the morning draw as Forrester had a conflict with a university exam. Lyburn will now face Grassie for one of the eight available playoff berths.
In Thursday’s second draw, top seed Reid Carruthers kept his perfect record intact. Carruthers got past Pinawa’s Richard Muntain 7-2 to advance to a playoff qualifier.
“It was a little better than our last game,” said Carruthers. “We still weren’t running at 100 per cent. I still think there’s a little bit that we can learn about the ice.”
The defending champion Mike McEwen foursome is also safely through to an A-Side qualifier. McEwen scored three in the eighth end against Carberry’s Kelly Marnoch en route to an 8-3 win.
“For once we’re actually playing the best curling of the season going into provincials, where haven’t always been able to say that,” McEwen said. “We’ve been pretty consistent, but for sure this year because we were kinda bad the first half. We’re definitely playing the best we’ve played all year.”
Seven more teams were eliminated entering Thursday’s late draw, bringing the original 32 team field down to 21 clubs still in the hunt. 2017 Manitoba Junior champion JT Ryan bowed out as Gunnlaugson bounced back with a 7-4 win. Forrester, Neufeld, Graham Freeman, Shaun Parsons, Jim Renwick and Howard Restall have all been knocked out of contention.
WATCH: Viterra Championship – Day 2
A-Side Playoff Qualifier Games – Friday 8:30 a.m.
(1) Reid Carruthers (West St. Paul) vs David Bohn (Assiniboine)
(2) Mike McEwen (Fort Rouge) vs Trevor Loreth (Granite)
(3) Matt Dunstone (Deer Londge) vs Taylor McIntyre (Pembina)
(4) William Lyburn (Granite) vs Sean Grassie (Fort Rouge)
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