Reid Carruthers, Brad Jacobs, Derek Samagalski and Connor Njegovan will represent Manitoba at the 2024 Brier next month in Regina.
The Granite Curling Club foursome defeated Braden Calvert, Corey Chambers, Kyle Kurz and Brendan Bilawka of Fort Rouge 6-3 in the final of the Viterra Provincial Men’s Curling Championship Sunday afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Sports Complex in Stonewall.
Calvert was one down coming home with hammer after blanking the ninth end.
The 2015 World Junior champion was looking at two Carruthers rocks buried in the full four-foot in front of the button.
Calvert’s desperation raise hit attempt with his last throw to force the extra end left Team Carruthers a steal of two and the 6-3 victory.
“We got fortunate in the 10th end to really put some pressure on him on his last two shots,” said Carruthers. “That was an absolute coin-flip.”
Team Calvert, who beat Team Carruthers 8-7 in an extra end in the 1-1 page playoff game on Saturday night, had won six straight games before losing the final.
“The way we’re playing, at the top of our game, we can hang with them, and we almost did,” said Calvert.
Carruthers won his first Provincial Men’s Curling Championship in 2011 playing second for Jeff Stoughton.
He captured his eighth Sunday in Stonewall.
“This is the toughest test I think I’ve ever faced in a provincial,” Carruthers remarked. “Not to say that some of the other battles weren’t crazy but just overall, the provincials – holy smokes – we had some insane games against some good young teams. This makes me want to retire.”
Carruthers explained what the addition of Brad Jacobs brought to the team this season.
“Electricity. He brings that different energy that I normally don’t bring to the game. I’m a little more calm. He brings a certain energy that I think is great for all of us.”
Jacobs won the Northern Ontario championship 12 times.
Now the former Brier and Olympic champion has his first Manitoba title.
“I’m getting to know the people in Manitoba,” said Jacobs. “I would say that the people here and the fans are a lot like the fans in northern Ontario. We’re right next door and I’m sure there’s probably some northern Ontario fans and people that were tuned into that game watching from home. Probably a little sad that I’m no longer playing in northern Ontario with my cousins but that being said, I’m loving being on this new team with these guys. They’ve got my back; they supported me all week. I’m really proud to throw that Buffalo on and represent the best I possibly can with my teammates.”
Carruthers, Jacobs, Samagalski and Njegovan, who were the number one seed in Stonewall, defeated Jordon McDonald of Assiniboine Memorial 10-7 in the semifinals Sunday morning.
“We’re getting older and they’re just getting younger and better,” said Samagalski. “It’s absolutely crazy. Calvert, McDonald, these teams are so good now. We had to bring our A game and when we didn’t, the teams beat us twice. If we don’t have our A game, they’re going to beat us. Luckily today we weren’t sharp enough and Brad made a nice shot on his last one and put Braden in a tough shot on his last one shot there."
What's coming up is a hectic schedule for the Njegovan family with two Canadian championships on the horizon.
Connor and his teammates will be competing at the Brier in Regina from March 1st -10th.
Selena Njegovan, Kristin MacCuish, Jocelyn Peterman, Kaitlyn Lawes will be wearing Manitoba colors at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts that begins Friday in Calgary.
Connor Njegovan, who is also the coach for Team Lawes, was asked what it means to win the Viterra Championship two weeks after his wife captured the Provincial Scotties in Morden.
“It means a lot. We both work so hard, and we had such a whirlwind of a year having our first kid and figuring out what life looks like as trying to be professional curlers. We have so much help. We’ve relied so much on my mom and dad day-to-day and her mom and dad traveling with us all over the place. It’s a crazy life that we’ve built together but it sure is a lot of fun."