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Manitoba skip Mike McEwen heads from the ice after defeating Quebec 5-2 in draw 17 action at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Manitoba skip Mike McEwen heads from the ice after defeating Quebec 5-2 in draw 17 action at the Tim Hortons Brier. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

McEwen and Gushue to meet in Page 1-2 game as Brier playoffs set Add to ...

The final four is set at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Manitoba’s Mike McEwen earned the top seed Friday morning with a 5-2 win over Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard. McEwen and Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador were to meet in the Page playoff 1-2 game on Friday night after topping the standings with 9-2 records.

“I thought we were able to finish the week the way we started the week,” McEwen said. “Our last three outings were really good. That’s tremendous getting first place and hammer.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Gushue, who defeated Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy 9-3, is seeded second since he lost to McEwen in round-robin play.

Canada’s Kevin Koe beat Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick 7-6 to earn the third seed. Koe will play fourth-seeded Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario in the Page 3-4 game on Saturday afternoon.

Both Koe and Jacobs finished round-robin play at 8-3. Koe gets the third seed since he defeated Jacobs in their head-to-head meeting.

The morning results knocked Ménard and British Columbia’s John Morris (both 7-4) out of the playoff picture and eliminated the possibility of tiebreaker games.

The Page 1-2 winner advances to the final Sunday night while the loser falls into the semi-final. The 3-4 winner will advance to the semifinal Saturday night for a berth in the final.

“I think we’ve had a good test leading into [the playoffs] with a few [teams] we’ve played against like Koe and Jacobs, those were playoff atmosphere kind of games,” Gushue said. “The crowd was into it and we were into it.

“So it’s going to be very similar to that, which is good for us because we’ve done it twice.”

In the other morning game, Ontario’s Glenn Howard scored a single in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.

It was a record 17th Brier appearance for the 54-year-old Howard, who received a standing ovation from the 5,716 fans at Mile One Centre after the game.

“I was emotional there,” Howard said. “It’s pretty cool to have people recognize [what] we’ve done. Who knows, that could have been my last Brier. I have no idea.

“I know I don’t have too many left so I relished every moment and that was pretty cool to get a standing ovation from a great crowd.”

Howard, a four-time national and world champion, also holds the Brier record with 217 games played.

Saskatchewan’s Adam Casey finished round-robin play at 5-6, followed by Murphy and Howard at 4-7 and Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher at 3-8.

Kennedy and Jamie Koe were tied at 1-10. The last-place finisher is no longer relegated to the qualification round as the 2018 Brier will be expanded to 16 teams.

Nunavut, Yukon and Prince Edward Island did not advance out of this year’s qualification round. They will be included in the main draw next year as the field will be split into two pools of eight teams.

The defending champion will continue to return as Team Canada, joining Northern Ontario and the 10 provincial and three territorial representatives.

Curling Canada is expected to unveil details in the coming months on the qualification setup for the 16th team.

The 3-4 loser and semi-final loser will play for bronze on Sunday afternoon. The Brier champion will represent Canada at the men’s world curling championship next month in Edmonton.

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