Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue thinks strategy between ends during the gold medal game against Team Alberta at the Tim Hortons Brier national men’s curling
championship Sunday in Ottawa. Alberta’s Kevin Koe took two in the ninth to go up 9-5 and forced handshakes for Gushue’s foursome from the Bally Haly Country Club in St. John’s.
Brad Gushue will have to wait another year before ticking off that one, final elusive curling objective — winning a Tim Horton’s Brier championship.
This was shaping up to be Gushue’s year — hot as a pistol on the World Curling Tour in late 2015, and carrying on that brilliant play through the round-robin in Ottawa at 9-2, bettered only by Brad Jacobs’ Northern Ontario team which was a perfect 11-0. And if you’re one for karma, or fate, it’s been exactly 40 years since Newfoundland won its first and only Brier, and 10 since Gushue copped Olympic gold in Torino, Italy.
But Kevin Koe, the two-time Brier champion, had a little something to say about this, and the soft-spoken Calgary curler made a big statement Sunday night, outscoring the St. John’s team from the Bally Haly Country Club 9-5 in a shortened nine-end final to win the 2016 Brier.
For Gushue, it’s another huge disappointment ... so close, but yet so far away.
He now falls to 3-12 in Brier playoff starts, and zero-for-13 in Brier appearances.
Koe, on the other hand, improves to 10-2.
With the victory, Koe, Ben Hebert, Brent Laing and Marc Kennedy pocket a prize worth approximately $225,000, with the total including $144,000 in Sport Canada funding. They’ll wear Team Canada’s colours at the Brier next year at Mile One Stadium in St. John’s and will represent the country in the world championship next month in Basel, Switzerland.
Koe is now 4-1 against Gushue this season, including a win in the final at The Tour Challenge, a World Curling Tour stop in Paradise that was a preview to the Brier final. Gushue’s lone win over Koe came earlier in the week in Brier round-robin play, a 4-3 decision.
For the Newfoundland team, which also includes Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker, a difficult start ultimately led to its undoing, as Gushue and Co., holding last shot, allowed steals of a single point to Koe in the first and second ends to fall behind 2-0 early on.
Gushue managed to pick up a single point in the third, but Koe scored two in the fourth for a 4-1 lead. Gushue replied with a single point in the fifth to trail by two at the fifth end break.
And considering the Newfoundland team was down 4-1 after five to Jacobs in the 1-2 playoff game Friday night, before rallying to win, Gushue was in the mix.
Things got real interesting in the sixth when Gushue stole a point, but then came the fateful seventh end, when Koe all but sealed the deal scoring three.
The teams traded deuces in the eighth and ninth before Gushue opted to shake hands after Koe’s two in nine.
Gushue beat Jacobs 7-6 in an extra end Friday to advance directly to Sunday’s final. Koe, on the other hand, had to take the long road, outscoring Manitoba’s Mike McEwen 7-5 in the Page Playoff 3-4 game, and then Jacobs 6-5 in the semifinal.
For Gushue, it’s another silver medal after finishing second in 2007.
Sunday’s loss also means there will be no second Newfoundland team at the Brier next year. Had Gushue won, he would have been wearing Team Canada’s colours at Mile One Centre, with the winner of the 2017 provincial Tankard representing Newfoundland in the Brier.
GUSHUE’S BRIER RESULTS
2016 at Ottawa (10-3, silver medal)
2015 at Calgary (9-5)
2014 at Kamloops, B.C. (6-5)
2013 at Edmonton (8-4)
2012 at Saskatoon (5-6)
2011 at London, Ont. (10-4, bronze medal)
2010 at Halifax (8-4)
2009 at Calgary (8-4)
2008 at Winnipeg (7-5)
2007 at Hamilton, Ont. (9-4, silver medal)
2005 at Edmonton (6-5)
2004 at Saskatoon (8-4)
2003 at Halifax (6-5)
MOST CAREER BRIER GAMES
196, Glenn Howard (15 years)
174, Russ Howard (14 years)
158, Brad Gushue (13 years)
150, Kevin Martin (12 years)
150, Mark Nichols (12 years)
139, Jeff Stoughton (11 years)
MOST BRIER APPEARANCES AS SKIP
14 — Russ Howard (Ont./N.B.) 1980, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 (Ont.);
1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009 (New Brunswick)
13 — Brad Gushue