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Gushue and teammates on top of the pack, at the top of their game

Brad Gushue and Team Canada have made a habit of big scores and short games this week in Edmonton
Brad Gushue and Team Canada have made a habit of big scores and short games this week in Edmonton

Canada's Brad Gushue is the first to admit his foursome not known as a high-scoring team, but you wouldn't know it by looking at his scoresheets at the Ford World Men's Curling Championship in Edmonton

Gushue and his St. John’s rink locked up the first seed in the playoffs Thursday morning by posting a 10th straight win — and seventh consecutive rout — with a a 9-2 romp over Italy's Joel Retornaz at Northlands Coliseum.

“We basically try to control the scoreboard,” said Gushue, whose victory over the Italians included a five-ender, the second time the Canadians did that in as many games.

“We're more than happy being tied up with the hammer coming home. So this week has been a little bit odd for us to have these lopsided games.

“But I think it just comes down to how well we're playing … and we're getting some misses out of the other teams.”

Gushue and St. John’s rinkmates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker haven’t really been tested since an 8-6 win over Sweden's Niklas Edin on the second day of competition. The Canadians enjoyed a whopping 86-31 edge in overall points (a nearly 3-to-1 ratio) through their first 10 games.  Only two of those games went the regulation 10 ends. The rest have been over by the eighth, with opposition teams conceding 25 ends overall.

“I'm a little bit surprised by it, but we're playing at a very high level,” Gushue said. “I'm a little bit surprised that some of the teams haven't played a little bit better against us.

“I think maybe we've put the pressure on them and maybe they're trying a little bit too hard and trying some different things. I've seen some different calls.”

“Obviously, we’re not making everything, but when we do miss a shot, we come back with a great shot and make up for it, so we’re not digging ourselves into any holes.

“I certainly like the way we’re throwing. I like our attitude … we’re focusing on every shot.”

Gushue and Co. finished the round robin with a matchup against Norway's Steffen Walstad in Thursday night’s late draw. The result of that game wasn’t available at The Telegram’s press deadline, but other than finishing with a clean sheet in the round-robin and fine-tuning for tonight’s 1-2 Page playoff game, there was nothing at stake for the Canadian champions.

And even then, Gushue said a perfect preliminary-round in record wasn’t a big deal.

“I’m 100 per cent genuine when I say I don’t care about it,” he said before the game against Norway. “When I look back at all the Briers and worlds, I couldn’t tell you anybody’s records. All that really matters is that your name is on the trophy.

The game against Italy did have purpose — the win clinched first overall for Gushue and last-rock advantage in tonight’s 1-2 Page playoff, which will be against Edin.

The winner of tonight’s game advances directly to Sunday’s final, while the loser gets a second chance in the semifinal.

Switzerland's Peter de Cruz and American John Shuster secured the other playoff spots with Thursday-morning victories and will play in the 3-4 Page playoff. The winner will take on the loser of the 1-2 Page Playoff in a Saturday semifinal.

“Those guys are all capable of curling 95 per cent games,” Gushue said of the other playoff teams. “So even if we have control of the ice, even if we continue to play the way we're playing, someone could still play better.

“You guys know the nature of curling. One bad miss, an untimely miss, it can all switch around.”

Gushue and Nichols won Olympic gold in 2006, but this is the rink’s first appearance in a world championship. They couldn’t have hoped for it to go much better, especially with all those shortened games.

“We haven’t depleted our tanks like we normally would, which is great. We’re feeling good. I don’t think being tired or fatigued is going to be an issue this week,” said Gushue.

Now, it’s just a matter of the Canadians maintaining their edge.

“Hopefully, we continue to play the way we (have been),” Gushue said. “I think if we do that, it's going to take a hell of a game from someone to beat us.

“That's not to say that it's not going to happen, and we still have to do our part to play that hell of a game.”

 

With files from Curling Canada

 

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