Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rinkmates retained control of the playoff destiny in Conception Bay South Thursday night, coming away with a 5-3 win over Peter De Cruz of Switzerland on the second-last day of preliminary play at the Boost National, the fourth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2018-19 season.
The win moves Gushue and Co. to 2-1 in the event. The two-time Brier Canadian men’s champions could conceivably move on to the playoffs with a 2-2 round-robin record, but would guarantee themselves advancement by beating Bruce Mouat of Scotland this afternoon at the C.B.S. Arena.
Still, that won’t be an easy proposition given that Mouat is 3-0, one of only three teams in the 15-rink men’s field with undefeated records heading into today.
It would help if Gushue could replicate his performance Thursday when he curled 96 per cent.
But despite the skip’s solid showing and the fact his team, as a whole, outcurled the Swiss 89 to 81 per cent, the Gushue rink didn’t hold a lead until the seventh end when it scored two points — the only time in the game either team scored more than a single.
De Cruz, with Benoit Schwarz throwing final stones, actually had a chance to grab a victory by scoring two with hammer in the eighth, but a tough runback attempt on the last shot by the Swiss didn’t come off as planned, leaving the Newfoundland rink with a steal, the victory and a goodnight salute from the 2,000-plus waving Team Gushue rally towels that were provided before the draw.
Like Mouat, defending world men’s champion Niklas Edin of Sweden and Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., are 3-0 entering today and assured quarter-final berths.
The National also involves a 15-team women’s division and on each side, the teams with the best eight records will advance to the weekend playoffs.
Any necessary tiebreakers will be early Saturday morning, followed by quarter-finals.
Semifinals are Saturday evening, with finals set for Sunday afternoon.
In women’s play, only Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland and Anna Hasselborg remain undefeated, but while Tirinzoni has just one game remaining (it’s against Hasselborg), the Swedish women have two games today.
There is still much to be decided, especially in the women’s division, where only one team enters today with the three losses that leads to elimination from playoff contention.
The men’s final, at 1:30 p.m. NT Sunday, will be broadcast on CBC. The women’s final, with a 5:30 p.m. start, is being carried on Sportsnet.
De Cruz, 0-3