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Gushue, teammates back on the ice tonight

["Canada skip Brad Gushue celebrates his gold medal win over Sweden with third, Mark Nichols, second, Brett Gallant and lead, Geoff Walker at the Men's World Curling Championships in Edmonton, Sunday, April 9, 2017. "]
["Canada skip Brad Gushue celebrates his gold medal win over Sweden with third, Mark Nichols, second, Brett Gallant and lead, Geoff Walker at the Men's World Curling Championships in Edmonton, Sunday, April 9, 2017. "]

They say there is no rest for the wicked. Apparently, there’s also no rest for the wickedly good.

Brad Gushue and his St. John’s teammates will have little time to celebrate the world men’s curling championship they won for Canada on Sunday as they begin play today in Toronto at the WestJet Players’ Championship, a Pinty’s Grand of Slam of Curling event.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker are defending champions in the Players, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and actually pre-dates the Grand Slam.
How Gushue’s defence of the title will be affected by the hangover from the world championship and/or fatigue after a long week remains to be seen, but he and his teammates won’t be affected by unfamiliarity with the opposition.
Seven of the 11 other teams entered in the event faced Gushue in either the world championship or at the Brier Canadian men’s championship last month in St. John’s. They include Niklas Edin and his Swedish rink, which Gushue and Co. defeated 4-2 in Sunday’s world final, and Peter de Cruz of Switzerland, who won bronze in Edmonton.
Rinks skipped by Kevin Koe, Mike McEwen, John Morris, Brendan Bottcher and Brad Jacobs competed in the Brier and are also in Toronto. So are teams headed up by former Brier skips Reid Carruthers and Steve Laycock.
The 12th team is from Scotland and skipped by Kyle Smith, the 2013 world junior men’s champion.
Bottcher’s Edmonton rink will be Gushue’s opponent in tonight’s opening draw at  Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre, formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens. Carruthers, Koe, McEwen and Morris are also in Gushue’s pool.
Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet Now will begin carrying round-robin draws Thursday, with the weekend men’s playoffs (there is also a women’s division) being carried on Sportsnet and CBC.
The Gushue team is coming off the most dominant performance in the history of the world men’s curling championship, going 13-0 in Edmonton, where 12 countries competed. Kerry Burtnyk also had a perfect record for Canada at the 1995 worlds, but was 11-0 — it was a 10-country event at that time.
It was also a clean sweep for the St. John’s team when it came to all-star selections , which was based on shooting percentage in the round-robin. Gushue, Nichols, Gallant and Walker were all the best at their positions.
 “I've been a curling fan for a long time,” Gushue said after defeating Edin Sunday. “And not to toot our horn, but I've got to give my team credit. That was a pretty dominant performance for the whole week.”
Gushue wrote his name in the history books with the victory. He's the first skip to win gold at the world juniors, Winter Olympics and the world men's championship.
“The biggest thing is we're writing it in as world champions,” he said. “And this team, we're world champions after all the work we've put in over the last couple years. The commitments, the sacrifices, and ups and downs that we had, to be here right now is awesome.”
Nichols joins Gushue in the world junior/Olympic/world men’s accomplishment.
“This is unbelievable,” Nichols told Curling Canada. “This whole team has put in so much work all year. Oh man, I’m so proud to be a part of this team.
“I don’t think we could ever imagine going on a run like this against the best in the world.”
The world gold medals also officially qualify the Gushue rink for December’s Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials — the Ottawa event that will determine Canada’s four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Gushue who along with Nichols won gold for Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, was almost certainly in line to earn a berth at the Trials even without the win at the worlds. But considering the situation last fall last fall when a hip injury prevented him from beginning the season with the team, it’s all part of what has been a remarkable season … and story.
“It’s hard to believe,” he said. “To see where I was in November, December and even parts of January, to be here, world champion, it’s incredible.”

bmcc@thetelegram.com
With files from The Canadian Press and Curling Canada



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