What started out with so much promise fell apart in a hurry for Brad Gushue at the Tim Hortons Brier.
Gushue and his Bally Haly Golf and Country Club team of Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker lost 7-5 to Saskatchewan’s Steve Laycock in the Brier’s bronze-medal game Sunday afternoon in Calgary, the third straight playoff loss for the team from St. John’s.
Gushue was still feeling the disappointment of losing the semifinal game 8-6 to Team Canada Saturday night, which knocked Newfoundland out of Brier championship contention.
This was Gushue’s 12th Brier appearance, and the skip was confident this was the year that he would end a long curling drought, dating back to 1976 when Jack MacDuff won the province’s one and only Brier.
Gushue was second to Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs after the round-robin, finishing 9-2.
Jacobs defeated Gushue 7-5 Friday night in the 1-2 Page playoff game, which sent the Northern Ontario team directly to Sunday’s final.
In his 12 trips to the nationals, Gushue finished second once (2007 in Hamilton, Ont. after losing 10-6 to Glenn Howard in the final) and third once (2011 in London, Ont., beating Kevin Martin 10-5).
Following Sunday’s game, Gushue acknowledged the loss to Team Canada skipped by Pat Simmons may have been the hardest of his Brier career.
“I felt this was our year,” he said. “The guys played well enough. I missed some shots that I don’t normally miss and that’s disappointing. A shot here, a shot there each night and we’re playing in the final.
“We had a real hard time getting motivated this morning,” he said. “It was a pretty fresh wound. We came here for the championship. We didn’t get that and we just want to get home.”
While it’s not the game curlers want to be playing, the bronze-medal tilt wasn’t a total waste of time.
The win earned Laycock’s team $35,000 and 30 Canadian Team Ranking points. The Gushue receives $25,000 and 20 CTRS points. Each team also receives $10,000 in cresting money and $7,000 in Athlete Assistance Fund money.
The Gushue-Laycock game went into an extra end, and Saskatchewan stole two in the 11th for the victory after Gushue missed an attempted raise double with his final stone.
Next year’s Brier is slated for Ottawa. Site of the 2017 national curling championship has yet to be named, but St. John’s and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — the Jacobs rink’s hometown — are both actively pursuing the bid.