It was the second game of the National — and of the 2016-17 curling season — for Gushue, who missed his team’s first eight spiels this fall as he worked to recover from a nagging hip/groin injury.
The team, with Mark Nichols throwing skip rocks, made the playoffs in all those competitions and sits on top of the World Curling Tour’s Order of Merit Standings and Curling Canada’s CRTS ranking, which will be used to determine three berths for the next Canadian Olympic trials.
On Tuesday, Gushue, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker and Nichols, back at his regular third position, opened with a 9-4 win over a Sudbury, Ont., rink skipped by 18-year-old Tanner Horgan, the Canadian junior silver medallist.
“I didn’t know what to expect and having not thrown a whole lot of rocks coming into this event — and certainly having not thrown a whole lot of good rocks — I was little bit nervous,” Gushue told Sportsnet after the win. “Overall, I think I played OK. I had a couple shots that if I was in mid-season form I probably wouldn’t expect the result that I got.
“The guys said I looked a little bit like I had the training wheels on and it certainly feels like that.
"It’s going to be a bit more time before I get back to 100 percent.”
On Wednesday — scoring-wise at least — Gushue was a respectable 87 per cent against Laycock and Co., who are fourth in the CRTS rankings. Overall, the Gushue team outscored the opposition 88 per cent to 78 per cent in the game.
Tonight, Gushue will be under that spotlight that much more as he takes on the Soo’s Brad Jacobs, the defending Olympic champion, in a marquee matchup. Jacobs is also 2-0 at the National.