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Gushue and teammates rediscover comfort zone at the Brier

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue calls a shot during the first draw of the Brier.
Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue calls a shot during the first draw of the Brier.

The score doesn’t always reflect the game, which may be a good way to begin to set up a description of Newfoundland and Labrador’s win over Saskatchewan Monday night at the Tim Hortons Brier 2017 in St. John’s.

Brad Gushue and the hometown team won, beating Adam Casey and Saskatchewan 10-5, a result that leaves Newfoundland in a tie for third place with Team Canada, both with 3-1 records. But before Gushue put it away with a score of four in the ninth end — which led to game-ending handshakes — it was one-point game most of the way.
So it had been the night previous, when Newfoundland downed New Brunswick 5-4, but while Sunday’s victory lacked a comfort factor for Gushue, he and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker seemed much more in control against Casey. This even though Saskatchewan kept it close, or pretty close, most of the way… and even owned a 2-1 lead heading into the third end.
“Other than the first couple of ends, yeah I think that’s right,” said Walker. “They put some heat on us early, but especially in the second half, I thought we really controlled it. They were chasing us and we were making them make some pretty tough shots.”
In the ninth, Gushue had last rock and a one-point lead, but Casey was counting one when he hogged an attempted guard, leaving Gushue with the shot for four.
Casey says his shot that came up short wasn’t the result of a pick but the rock finding a flat spot on the ice.
“I got it into the middle and I thought I was getting out into the good stuff and I think I was just a little light and not quite out there and came up a little bit short,” said Casey, who was the second on the Gushue rink for three years, from 2012 to 2014.
This is Casey’s sixth straight Canadian men’s curling championship and with his third different province. After the three years as part of Newfoundland’s champions, he spent two years in his native Prince Edward Island skipping its Brier representatives before the move further west to Saskatchewan.
Through three days of play in St. John’s,. Manitoba and Mike McEwen have the only undefeated record at 4-0, followed by Northern Ontario and Brad Jacobs (4-1). Then its Newfoundland and Team Canada. with British Columbia alone in fifth at 3-2.
It’s still early in a Brier round-robin schedule that doesn’t finish until Friday, but if you had polled most veteran curling observers before the event, those might be the rinks which would most often be listed as the top five favourites to win it all.
Monday’s game was the only one on the day for Gushue, which meant his team had more than 20 hours between contest. It is a much shorter turnaround today as Newfoundland takes on Jamie Koe and the Northwest Territories (0-4) this morning (10 o’clock) before heading into what’s shaping up to be an important matchup against Northern Ontario in the late draw (8 p.m.).

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