Many who watched the game labelled it an instant classic.
But for Brad Gushue, it was anything but a masterpiece.
Alberta skip Kevin Koe made a nifty angle-raise takeout with his last rock to score two in the 10th end and defeat Gushue and Team Canada 7-6 in a spotlighted matchup featuring two unbeaten rinks at the Tim Hortons Brier Monday night in Brandon Manitoba.
It was a back-and-forth affair between a pair of multiple Brier winners who have met twice in Canadian men’s curling finals.
Gushue and his St. John’s rink of Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker took a 6-5 lead with a single in the eighth end, and after the ninth was blanked, looked like he might come away with a steal and the win in the 10th, using his last shot to make a freeze on an Alberta rock.
But with his allotted playing time ticking away to under 10 seconds, Koe made the angle raise, removing the Team Canada stone and one of his own, but still leaving two Alberta counters for the win that improved their record to 4-0.
Gushue, who won his first of two straight Briers in 2017 by defeating Koe in a thrilling final at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, was more than disappointed by the result.
"I said Plan B too many times out there, especially late in the game.” — Brad Gushue
“We never made anything in that (10th) end,” Gushue told curling.ca after the game. “(Koe) gave us an out on his first one and we made a good one to force him to make an angle raise, but we missed a lot of easy shots in that end. It always looked like he was going to have a shot to win after our first five, six shots.”
Gushue said the problems really began in the eighth, even though that was an end where Team Canada took the lead it carried into the 10th. Alberta had a chance to steal in that end, but Koe was heavy on a guard attempt, allowing Gushue to slide in for a single.
“The execution was really poor in the last three ends,” said Gushue. “There were a lot of shots missed out of the hand, which is kind of frustrating for me. I said Plan B too many times out there, especially late in the game.”
The result leaves Gushue and Co. with a 3-1 record and tied for second place behind Koe in their eight-team pool with Stuart Thompson of Nova Scotia and Jim Cotter's British Columbia entry, which Team Canada easily dispatched 10-4 in Monday’s early draw.
But Gushue, who has New Brunswick (this afternoon) and Nova Scotia and Nunavut (both Wednesday) left on the preliminary-round schedule, still looks to be in good shape to advance to the medal-round playoffs. The top four teams from each of the two Brier pools will move on.
The chances of the rink representing Newfoundland and Labrador being one of those advancing teams looks less likely after it lost 10-5 to Brendan Bottcher’s Wild Card team from Edmonton in its lone game Monday. That left Andrew Symonds, Chris Ford, Adam Boland and Keith Jewer of St. John’s at 0-4 in the other pool.
The Symonds rink plays twice today, against Manitoba and Saskatchewan.