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Newfoundland faces Manitoba tonight with spot in Brier final on the line

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue (right) watches the line as sweepers Geoff Walker and Mark Nichols (left) lean into their work during a game against Nova Scotia Friday morning the the Brier Canadian men's curling championship in St. John's.
Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue (right) watches the line as sweepers Geoff Walker and Mark Nichols (left) lean into their work during a game against Nova Scotia Friday morning the the Brier Canadian men's curling championship in St. John's.

Brad Gushue and his Newfoundland and Labrador rink will play at Mile One Centre tonight for a spot in the final of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.

Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker take on Mike McEwen and his Manitoba foursome in the 1-2 Page playoff game starting at 8 p.m.
Both Newfoundland and Manitoba won their final round-robin games this morning to finish with 9-2 records. By virtue of its 8-4 round-robin win over Newfoundland earlier this week, Manitoba will have last-rock advantage in tonight’s matchup, where the winner earns a direct bye into Sunday’s championship game. The loser would get a second chance at getting to that game by way of a Saturday night semifinal.
Brad Jacobs and Northern Ontario and defending champion Team Canada skipped by Kevin Koe will square off in a Saturday afternoon 3-4 Page playoff game to decide the other semifinalist.
Gushue entered today already knowing his team was assured at last a top-two finish so he saw the game against Nova Scotia as more of a chance for a little experimenting and to hone their edge.
But despite a 6-3 victory over Jamie Murphy’s Halifax rink, he judged his team’s performance as just “adequate.”
That was also the adjective he used to describe his own health — he’s dealt with a hip injury all season — providing just a little more incentive for a win tonight, since it will give him and his teammates a full day off.
He knows he will be helped by the home crowd, which was loud once again this morning even if there wasn’t a whole lot on the line for Newfoundland — Gushue would have only gained last-rock advantage tin the 1-2 game had Manitoba lost to Quebec.
Even longtime Brier observers say they can’t recall it being any louder than at previous events than it was Thursday night when Gushue edged Kevin Koe in an extra end. But with the Manitoba-Newfoundland game being the only one on the Mile One ice tonight, there’s a good chance that Thursday’s intensity will be eclipsed.
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Today started with a myriad of playoff and tiebreaker possibilities dependant on the results of the final round-robin contests. There was even one scenario that would have had five teams tied with 8-3 records.
As it is, there will be no tiebreakers, meaning there is no action at Mile One this afternoon.
Quebec and British Columbia finished just on the outside looking in, both at 7-4.

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