Brad Gushue’s quest to rub shoulders with Canadian curling royalty was dashed Sunday night in Las Vegas with a 7-3 loss to Sweden’s Niklas Edin in the 2018 world men’s curling championship’s gold-medal game.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker, along with fifth man Tom Sallows and coach Jules Owchar, representing both the Bally Haly Curling Club and Re/Max Centre, were vying to become just the fifth team — all of them Canadian — to successfully defend the world men’s championship.
Saskatchewan’s Ernie Richardson did it twice, in 1959-60 and 1962-63. The other back-to-back winners were Calgary’s Ron Northcott in 1968 and ’69, Winnipeg’s Don Duguid in 1970 and ’71 and Edmonton’s Randy Ferbey in 2002 and ’03.
Gushue came up just short of beating the three teams in the playoffs which his team had lost to in the round-robin. After dropping a 6-5 decision to the United States, Gushue and Co. defeated Rich Ruohonen’s U.S. squad 6-4 Saturday morning, with Gushue making a draw to the four-foot in the 10th end for the victory.
"The only positive we can look at is even if we’d played well today, (Sweden) still would have won. They were certainly the best team today. They’re probably the toughest team in the world to get back against. We came here to win, but Niklas and his team are certainly deserving."
Saturday night, Team Canada punched a ticket to Sunday’s final with a solid 9-5 win over Bruce Mouat of Scotland. Mouat had previously beaten Gushue 8-7 in the round-robin.
But Gushue could not turn the trick on Edin, who was coming off a silver-medal performance at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Edin beat Gushue 6-5 Friday in Canada’s second-last round-robin game.
Named the tournament’s all-star skip, Edin was superb in the final, curling 95 per cent.
After blanking the first couple of ends, Edin got his deuce in the third end. And then came the back breaker for Gushue, who gave up a steal of two in the fourth and one in the fifth to trail to trail 5-0 at the fifth-end break.
The game, then, was effectively over.
“Obviously, we’re really disappointed,” Gushue told reporters. “It wasn’t our best effort.
“Niklas and his team played great today. The only positive we can look at is even if we’d played well today, they still would have won. They were certainly the best team today.
“They’re probably the toughest team in the world to get back against. We came here to win, but Niklas and his team are certainly deserving,” Gushue said.
It was a different result last year in Edmonton when the team from Newfoundland and Labrador won its first world championship with a 4-2 win over Edin.
“We have a couple guys who haven't won the world championship, so it's amazing for our team to really be on top, after the Olympic loss, especially, and losing the world final last year as well,” said Edin, who claimed his third world crown.
“They were way better than us last year, but I think this year, it was our turn.”
Team Gushue ran the table 13-0 last spring in Alberta, outscoring the opposition 100-41, but they could not find that magic in Vegas, where it was 9-3 in the round-robin.
But the skip said he eventually came around to believing his team could win without playing what he called “a real clean game.”
“I think with how we played this week, and struggled through with everything that happened leading up to it, it's still positive,” Gushue said. “Certainly disappointed because we came here to win, but Niklas and his team were certainly deserving.
“At the end of the day, second in the world is pretty good, but it's a little short of what we were hoping for.”
Nichols enjoyed a strong world championship, especially in the playoffs, and was named to the all-star team, along with Walker.
Scotland won the bronze medal with an 11-4 win over Korea.
Team Gushue now heads to Toronto for the Players Championship Grand Slam event, which opens Tuesday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.
However, the Gushue team doesn’t play its first game until Wednesday.
With files from Curling Canada and The Canadian Press