By Paul Wiecek – Winnipeg Free Press

MORRIS — Manitoba’s Terry McNamee has lived on to fight another day at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.

But he’s done it just barely and is riding a three-game losing streak as his Manitoba foursome heads into a playoff tiebreaker game tonight.

Manitoba lost both their games Thursday, 5-4 to New Brunswick’s Charlie Sullivan on the afternoon draw and then 8-7 to a Northern Ontario team skipped by Craig Kochan that was just 3-6 coming into Thursday night.

Add those losses to a loss to Nova Scotia Wednesday night and suddenly a Manitoba team that was in first place all week finds itself needing to win a tiebreaker tonight just to advance to Saturday’s playoffs.

Manitoba finished the round-robin with a 7-4 record and tied for the third and final playoff spot with Ontario’s Chris Gardner and New Brunswick’s Sullivan. Those two teams will play a tiebreaker game this afternoon (2:30 p.m.) with the winner advancing to face Manitoba (7 p.m.)

The winner of that second tiebreaker will then advance to play second-place Paul Flemming of Nova Scotia in the semifinal Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The winner of that game will then take on the first-place team skipped by Robert Campbell of P.E.I. in the final Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Nova Scotia is at 8-2 and P.E.I. at 9-1 heading into one final round-robin draw this morning, but P.E.I. will finish first and get the bye to the final regardless of what happens today because they beat Nova Scotia in the round-robin.

All of which is to say McNamee and his foursome — third Lana Hunter, second Allan Lawn and lead Lisa Blixhavn — have complicated their lives immeasurably with a nasty losing skid at the worst possible time.

No excuses, says McNamee. “We haven’t been sharp at all. We just haven’t been getting rocks in position and it’s hard to score points when you don’t,” he said.

“But we’re not out of it yet. We need to get better and we’ll see what happens.”

Thursday night’s loss was particularly costly. With a win over Northern Ontario, McNamee would have finished at 8-3 and captured third place outright.

But it wasn’t to be. Trailing 7-6, McNamee’s raise-back for what would have been a game-winning deuce in the 10th end failed and Manitoba had to settle for a single and send the game to an extra end.

And then in the extra frame, Manitoba had a counter biting the button and buried behind cover, but Kochan coolly outdrew it for an even bigger bite to get the game-winning single.

In addition to being the third straight loss for Manitoba, it was also the third straight loss on a last rock by either McNamee or his opponent. Those kinds of losses can eat at a team and McNamee said his rink would have a sit-down today and try to get their heads on straight.

“We’ll sit down and have a talk and probably throw some rocks before we play,” McNamee said. “We’re still in this and maybe we can change things around a bit for (today).”

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