In what had to be considered an almost perfect start to their season, Brad Gushue and his two-time Brier championship rink from St. John’s claimed the men’s title Sunday in the Princess Auto Elite 10, a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event in Chatham, Ont.
Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker defeated Read Carruthers 1-up in the final of the event, which used a match-play format.
It was Gushue’s 11th Grand Slam win and second in the Elite 10.
Gushue and Co., who purposely scheduled a late start to the 2018-19 season — the Elite 10 was their first event — won five of six games, their only loss coming to veteran Glenn Howard of Ontario in preliminary play.
And as if to prove that they had quickly scraped off any rust acquired during their downtime, each member of the Gushue rink rated best at his position in the event.
"I didn’t know what to expect seeing as how Mark and I only got on the ice last Sunday,” said skip Brad Gushue. “We had low expectations, but to come out here and win against teams that have played two, three or four times, it’s good, but a little bit of luck. We had some fortunate misses against us and also made some key shots too."
The St. John’s rink had earned a direct bye to the Elite 10 semifinal, where it defeated Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario.
The Gushue and Jacobs rinks may be the only two of Canada’s most high-profile men;’s curling teams that didn’t see change in the off-season.
That included Gushue’s opponent in the final. Carruthers has teamed up with longtime Winnipeg rival Mike McEwen for a heavyweight Manitoba rink, that sees Carruthers calling the shots with McEwen throwing last rocks.
The Elite 10 used a unique format.
Points were scored in match play by either counting two or more rocks (with the hammer) or stealing at least one rock (without the hammer).
Teams earned three points for a regulation win, two points for a shootout win and one point for a shootout loss.
There were three additional unique rules: Stopwatches were banned, tick shots could not be performed on guards sitting on the centre line until the fifth rock of play and teams only had four minutes of thinking time per end.
The Gushue rink took home $30,000 as a result of its victory in Chatham. Also on the line was a berth in the Humpty’s Cup, the season-ending event populated by Grand Slam champions. However, it was a moot point for Gushue and his teammates since they had already had a spot in that event as 2018 Humpty’s Cup winners.
With files from The Canadian Press