They didn’t get to the playoffs, win any of the big money or gain the much-valued Olympic Trials berth that went to the victors, but Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rink still gained something at the Home Hardware Canada Cup that finished up in Leduc, Alta., on Sunday.
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker finished with a 3-3 round-robin record of the seven-team men’s division at the Canada Cup. That left Gushue and Co. in fourth place, just outside the playoffs and with $7,500 in prize money.
As a Curling Canada event, the Leduc competition featured 10-end games. As well, the schedule called for two games each day during the three-day round robin. Compare that with World Curling Tour and Grand Slam events that feature eight-end games and schedules that usually alternate between one-game and two-game days.
For the Gushue rink, which had competed in only four full events this season before Leduc, the Canada Cup proved to be good test and reminder of what they could be facing in the future.
“I haven’t played a whole lot of two-game days since my injury,” Gushue told Curling Canada’s Al Cameron, referring to the hip/groin problems that have nagged him the last couple of years, “but here, you do it back to back to back, with the 10 ends added onto that.
“It is a grind. But it’s what’s going to be faced in the Olympic Trials, the Olympics and the world championships, so it’s good for Canadian teams to get that at the Canada Cup.”
It was something he repeated to the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones.
They put us through the gauntlet here. If you can get through this, you can get through the Trials,” Gushue told Jones.
Kevin Koe and John Epping met up in the Canada Cup men’s final Sunday night, with the winner gaining $40,000 and a berth in the 2021 Trials to decide Canada’s teams for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
In all, there will be nine men’s teams in the Trials in Saskatoon, but after Sunday, only one of the remaining eight Trials spots will be available during the 2019-20 curling season. That would go to the winner of the 2020 Brier Canadian men’s championship.
For the first time since 2017, Gushue and his teammates aren’t guaranteed a spot in the Brier. They got to the Canadian championships in 2018 and 2019 as defending Brier winners, but this season, they will need to win the Tankard Newfoundland and Labrador men’s title (to be decided beginning Jan. 28 at the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s), in order to get to the 2020 Brier in Kingston, Ont.
The next event for Gushue will the Boost National Grand Slam, starting Dec. 10 at the Conception Bay South Arena.
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