Stoughton used 10th-end hammer to nail down win over Gushue

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CURLING/TIM HORTONS BRIER Newfoundland and Labrador's playoff run lasts just one game

Time ran out on Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland and Labrador rink. Nearly literally ... because only nine ticks remained on their time clock during their Saturday playoff game against Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba at the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men;s curling championship in Calgary.

Figuratively ... because of Stoughton's 10th-end hammer-stone shot, the unfurling of which resulted in a match-sealing double-raise takeout and stay. The heave propelled the Manitobans to a thrilling 8-7 decision in the three-versus-four bracket and abruptly ended the week in Cowtown for Gushue and Bally Haly rinkmates Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry and Jamie Korab.

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue contemplates matters as he takes a break between ends during a playoff game against Manitoba Saturday at the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian mens curling championship in Calgary. Manitoba won 8-7. Photo by Canwest Ne

Calgary -

Time ran out on Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland and Labrador rink. Nearly literally ... because only nine ticks remained on their time clock during their Saturday playoff game against Jeff Stoughton of Manitoba at the 2009 Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men;s curling championship in Calgary.

Figuratively ... because of Stoughton's 10th-end hammer-stone shot, the unfurling of which resulted in a match-sealing double-raise takeout and stay. The heave propelled the Manitobans to a thrilling 8-7 decision in the three-versus-four bracket and abruptly ended the week in Cowtown for Gushue and Bally Haly rinkmates Mark Nichols, Ryan Fry and Jamie Korab.

Stoughton's final touch produced the game-winning two points; gasps from some fans, roars from others; shrieks and leaps from yellow-shirted teammates; and an appreciative tip of the hat from his crestfallen counterpart.

"A hell of a shot, yup," said Gushue. "For some reason, I had a feeling come over me that he was going to make it. What a shot. I feel kind of snakebitten . . . what do you have to do to win? Give him all the credit in the world. He put the broom down and he made it. A tough shot and he made it.

"Wow - that's all I have to say."

Manitoba dominated early, leading 6-3 after six ends.

"We came out real flat," said Gushue. "We've got to figure out what happened there and how we can not do that again."

Still, Gushue's group wrenched the affair back into its hands.

According to the Newfoundland skip, it was simply a matter of getting used to the ice - faster and straighter than during round-robin play.

"Definitely, it was different," said Gushue. "Jeff had a bit of an advantage playing (Friday in the tiebreaker) . . . and we were a little slow catching on. After the fifth-end break, we got the broom in the right spot a little more."

Cue the comeback.

With Newfoundland backers sensing their team's do-or-die predicament in the seventh end, Gushue's final shot was bookended by rousing applause. He made it worth their emotional investment, gunning for a raise triple, but still nailing a tide-turning double.

That, pushing the score to 6-5, got everyone's attention (including one smitten fan, who waved this bold-faced sign: "Alberta is our team but Gushue your (sic) hot!").

In the eighth, Gushue burned a timeout, but made it count - stealing one.

In the ninth, Gushue burned a timeout, but made it count - stealing one.

Which gave the hopeful foursome from St. John's a 7-6 edge heading for the barn.

Helping matters and seemingly jacking the easterners' momentum was Nichols' lovely double takeout. Then. with a couple of his red rocks resting in the rings, Gushue, game clock shrivelling, constructed a fortress of guards.

Stoughton appeared to be in trouble.

The key word there: appeared.

Because after taking his second timeout of the end, Stoughton, with precious little room for error (less than a Timbit's width either way), did precisely what he had to - negating the Newfoundland threat and sticking.

An official measurement served only to heighten Stoughton's accomplishment - two points and the triumph.

"I'm very proud of my team, the way we came back in the second half," said Gushue. "We can walk away with our heads held high about the way we performed here this week.

"We faced a lot of adversity - some of it self-inflicted - and we came out on top each and every time. That bodes well for this team."

Organizations: TIM HORTONS

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Calgary, Manitoba Cowtown Alberta St. John's

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