For Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rink, everything went almost perfectly this week in Truro, N.S., at the Kioti Tour Challenge, the second Pinty Grand Slam of Curling event of the 2019-20 season.
Except for their last two ends of their final game of the competition, which ended with a 6-4 loss to Brad Jacobs and his rink from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker had gone undefeated through four games in the round-portion of the event before defeating Sweden’s Niklas Edin in a quarter-final and Alberta’s Kevin Koe in semifinal play.
That set up Sunday’s championship final against Jacobs, and Gushue looked to be in control after stealing a point in the sixth to go up 4-2, then making a dandy freeze with his last rock in an attempt to force the other Brad’s hand in the seventh. But Jacobs had a clutch shot of his own, making a runback to score three and take his first lead of the game.
That left Gushue down 5-4, but with last-rock advantage in the eighth, when the house filled up with rocks. With his last shot, Jacobs made a precise shot through a barely stone-wide port for a hit and stick to wind up with shot stone. Rather than attempt a shot to tie the game and send it to an extra end, where Jacobs would have last-rock advantage, Gushue went for the whole caboodle, deciding to attempt a difficult raise triple takeout to score two points for the victory.
The gamble almost paid off, but just almost. Instead, Jacobs ended up with a steal of one and the win.
It marks the second straight Grand Slam runner-up finish for the Gushue and Co., who lost to Matt Dunstone’s Regina-based rink in the final of the Masters in North Bay, Ont., in late October.
Gushue and his teammates will get a chance to break their GSOC trend next month at home, when the Conception Bay South Arena hosts the next Slam, the Boost National, Dec. 10-15.