It had to be a tough loss, especially considering their opponents.
But even in defeat, Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rinkmates proved to be substantial winners over the weekend at the Players Championship Grand Slam of Curling event in Toronto.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker dropped a 6-5 decision to Sweden’s Niklas Edin in a Saturday semifinal at the Players Championship, staged at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
Not only was it a repeat of the result from six days previous, when Edin had knocked of Gushue and Co. (as Team Canada) in the final of the world men’s curling championship in Las Vegas, it was a game that got away from the St. John’s rink.
Gushue led 5-2 heading into the sixth end, but Edin scored two with the hammer and followed up with steals in the last two ends of the eight-end game for the victory.
“The first job we had here this week was to win the (Bonus) Cup. It’s about season-long success and being the best at the Slams all year, which is the best-on-best.”
However, by getting to the semifinal in Toronto, the Gushue rink still collected $75,000 in prize money as winners of the Bonus Cup, which goes to the overall Grand Slam season series points champion.
Mike McEwen’s Manitoba rink entered the week with a chance of overtaking Gushue in the Bonus Cup, but saw that opportunity end when he also didn’t advance beyond the semifinals, losing to Kevin Koe.
“The first job we had here this week was to win the (Bonus) Cup … that was the most important thing,” said Gushue, whose rink had won two GSOC events earlier in the season and nine overall in his career “It’s about season-long success and being the best at the Slams all year, which is the best-on-best.
“We’re pretty proud of it.”
Gushue and his counterparts finish up the 2017-18 schedule with another Grand Slam event, the Humpty’s Champions Cup, beginning eight days from now in Calgary.
And even though their recent schedule has been a grind — they’ve played in the Brier, world men’s championship and two Grand Slam events in the last seven weeks — Gushue has extra incentive to win in Calgary. The Champions Cup is the only one of the seven Grand Slam events he has never won.
“Certainly, after the last week and this week it’s been some pretty disappointing finishes for us,” Gushue told Jonathan Brazeau of grandslamofcurling.com. “If we can muster up enough energy — we’re not going to get much practice in between now and the Champions Cup — I’d like to win and finish off all seven of them.”