VIRDEN – 2019 Brandon Brier has a ship with strong ties to society.
Brandon native Mike McEwen, who skips the Reid Carruthers team, and former Brandon resident William Lyburn will meet in Manitoba's men's curling championship last Sunday afternoon at Tundra Oil & Gas Place.
The winner represents Manitoba at Brier at Westoba Place in Brandon, March 1-10.
Lyburn, who now curls out of Winnipeg, beat Jason Gunnlaugson 6-2 in the Viterra Championship semifinals Sunday morning.
Lyburn, third Daley Peters, second Kyle Doering and leading Brendan Bilawka will meet the Carruthers team at 2:30 pm It is the first appearance in the province's finals for all players.
"It's been 20 years," said Lyburn. "I am super proud that we are coming to the final, but now it's time to finish it."
McEwen has played in the last five provincial finals and has won two of them. Carruthers is a five-time Manitoba champion and won the Brier and World Championships second for Jeff Stoughton in 2011.
Carruthers will have the first end hammer and rock selection, giving him an early advantage over Lyburn.
But Lyburn also didn't have the hammer at the start of the match against Gunnlaugson either, and everything worked well.
Gunnlaugson tried to play a conservative game that blanked the first three ends before taking one in fourth place.
Lyburn scored a big deuce in the fifth and never waived the lead. He stole one in the eighth to go up 3-1 and Gunnlaugson was heavy in succession for two in the ninth, giving Lyburn the opportunity to have the hammer and a one-time lead in 10th.
He didn't have to throw his last rock to score two in the end and order a ticket for the final.
"Phenomenal … the young guys (Doering and Bilawka), you'd never know it's a big moment as it is," Lyburn said. "They seem pretty quiet. They are the ones who help me with everything, and I'm the old guy."
After the victory, Lyburn was met by his wife Jody and daughters Mikaylah and Madison, who traveled from Winnipeg early on Sunday morning to noon. 8:30.
"It's very nice," said Lyburn, and dried tears from the eyes. "My wife told me late last night. I told her not to disturb because it is a long way to come to see us lose or anything. She said they wanted to go and our kids and friends picked They got them up so they didn't have to drive, they all came together this morning, and it was really special.
"She told me I'm not going to see you lose."
It was also a great moment for Peters, whose father Vic was a three-time Manitoba champion and 1992 Brier winner.
Vic died of cancer in 2016, but his children carry the curl tradition. His daughter Liz Fyfe represents Manitoba at the national Scotties in Sydney, N.S., next week as the second at the Tracy Fleury team, and now Daley has a chance to come to Brier for the first time too.
"It's pretty cold, I'm not going to lie," Peters said. "To get Buffalo on the back like the old one had three times, it would be a dream. Just to get to a finals it's totally cool."
Peters played very well all week, and the whole team was solid in the semi-finals.
"It was nerve-racking, I'm not going to lie, but I'm ecstatic with this result," Peters said. "It's probably the most nervous I've been. It was my first Sunday and all that, but we were strong, we didn't miss too much."