Brad Gushue at the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Gushue, McEwen pick up early wins ahead of head-to-head match at Brier

REGINA — Defending champion Brad Gushue and wild-card skip Mike McEwen picked up wins in Monday’s early draw at the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, setting up a matchup of undefeated teams in the day’s evening schedule.

McEwen’s Winnipeg rink scored three in the 10th end in a 6-5 win over Nova Scotia as Jamie Murphy’s Halifax foursome suffered its first loss at the Canadian men’s curling championship.

Murphy had taken a two-point lead into the final end after scoring a deuce in the seventh and stealing one in the eighth and ninth.

Gushue joined McEwen at 3-0 with an 8-4 win over Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories.

The 2017 Brier winner put the game away with three in the eighth end.

It was Gushue’s 114th Brier victory, an all-time record for a skip.

The early results set up a battle for top spot in Pool A in a rare matchup of two teams not representing provinces or territories. Gushue’s rink from St. John’s, N.L., is competing at this Brier as Team Canada, while McEwen entered the main competition after winning the first ever Brier wild-card game on the weekend.

Manitoba is being represented by Reid Carruthers, who is also undefeated at 3-0 and was idle in the morning draw.

In other early results, Alberta edged British Columbia 9-8 and Newfoundland and Labrador held on for a 7-6 win over Yukon.

McEwen and Gushue led Pool A after six draws, followed by Nova Scotia and Alberta at 2-1.

Manitoba and Northern Ontario were at 3-0 to lead Pool B, with Ontario at 2-1.

The Pool B teams played in an afternoon draw later Monday, with the Pool A teams returning for the evening draw.

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