Ottawa - There’s still a bit of work to do before they find the form that bagged them the Tim Hortons Brier and world championship last spring, but Brad Gushue and his curling teammates are showing steady progress here at the 2017 Canadian Olympic Curling Trials.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker registered their second win, to go against one loss, at the Roar of the Rings with an 8-6 decision over John Morris of British Columbia Monday morning at the Canadian Tire Centre.
That sets the stage for an 8:30 (NL time) Monday night game against Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs. The Jacobs team, winners of the 2014 Olympic Games gold medal, is 1-1 after coughing up an 8-6 loss to Kevin Koe of Alberta Sunday when Jacobs’s last shot sailed through the house.
Gushue was not very good in his first game here in Ottawa Saturday night, a 6-4 loss to Toronto’s John Epping. The team was a bit better Sunday, in a 6-5 victory over Brendan Bottcher of Alberta, and better again Monday, showing some grit by rebounding after Morris cracked a three in the third end for a 3-1 lead.
Gushue answered with a deuce in the fourth.
“That was a good bounce back end,” he said of the fourth. “That kind of got us back feeling good, and then we played a good fifth end and got a steal.
“I thought we put a lot of good ends together this morning that we hadn’t done in the first two games.”
The knockout punch came in the eighth end when Gushue scored four for an 8-5 lead.
Every so often in sports, there’s one goal or one run that can change the fortunes of a team. That seventh end might be the case for Team Gushue, although the skip was more impressed with his fourth end, coming back after allowing three.
“We even had a chance for three,” he said. “That was the big one, in my opinion, to really turn us around.
“But, no doubt, the eighth end was another notch. Even though it wasn’t a perfect game, we can walk away from this with more positives than we had coming in.”
Entering the game, Morris held a 10-6 career head-to-head record against Gushue, including a win two weeks ago at the Boost National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. to break Gushue’s 23-game winning streak.
The game against Jacobs Monday night promises to be a dandy. Jacobs is no doubt sour after handing Koe the win Sunday.
The intensity promises to heighten, and we’re starting to see that from Gushue, who gave a first pump after his last shot for the four in eight.
“I need to play with that level of intensity to perform well,” he said. “I’ve gained the ability the last number of years to kind of come in and out of it. Back 12 years ago, I had to be in that for three hours playing game, but I don’t have to do that now.
“Certainly when I’m in the hack, I get that intensity. And if I don’t, I don’t feel like I have the edge. Sometimes that’s the difference between a hit and a miss.”