Brad Gushue admitted he was impatient at times Tuesday at the Tim Hortons Brier in Brandon, Man., mostly with himself.
However, while the two-time defending Canadian men’s curling champion from St. John’s was self-critical during a matchup with a feisty New Brunswick foursome, he could pat himself on the back after a clutch tap-back with his last rock of the final end, scoring two points to lift Team Canada to an 8-7 win.
The result gives Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker a 4-1 record and needing only one more victory to clinch a spot in the championship round pool. As it is, they are guaranteed at least a spot in a tiebreaker.
“That wasn’t our best game,” Gushue told reporters after Tuesday’s game. “I played poorly and made, in hindsight, some poor decisions in strategy and didn’t quite have the patience I normally do. I have to be better, but obviously, that last shot makes up for a lot of it.”
The numbers don’t quite back up Gushue’s contention that it wasn’t a good effort for Team Canada. Everyone on the team out-curled — by scoring percentage — their New Brunswick counterparts, with Walker coming in at a superb 95 percent.
“The lack of patience, no there’s no excuse for that … I know I’m better than that.” — Brad Gushue
But the team from Moncton kept finding ways to keep it close, stealing single points twice, including one on an eighth-end measurement, and getting a circus/escape act shot from skip Terry Oldishaw to score two in fifth end.
Perhaps the New Brunswickers’ persistence contributed to Gushue’s irritation, or there could have been residue from a last-rock loss to Kevin Koe and undefeated Alberta on Monday — “Maybe there was a little bit left over from last night,” he admitted — but whatever the reasons, the Team Canada skip said they weren’t good enough
“The lack of patience, no there’s no excuse for that … I know I’m better than that.”
The top four finishers in each of the Brier’s two eight-team pools make it to the championship round, taking their preliminary-round records with them. From there, four will go to Page playoffs.
“If we let that game (against New Brunswick) slip, the odds of us making the 1-2 (Page playoff) game are slim,” said Gushue. “It wouldn’t have meant we’re out of this event, but it would have put us behind a pretty big eight ball … and also it was the fact that I had missed some shots, not so much missed shots, but made poor decisions early in the game.
“I had a very human moment today, and I did it again and the second time I did it, I said ‘You’ve got to get your head out of your ass and start playing better and thinking better.’”
And maybe he’ll be feeling better today as he and teammates finish up preliminary play with games against Nova Scotia (3-2) this morning and winless Nunavut tonight. The game against N.B. was the only one on Tuesday’s schedule for Team Canada, something appreciated by Gushue, who continues to battle soreness in his hips,
“Physically, for me to have to play only one was good. I’ve got a little bit of tightness in my leg,” he said. “I’ve had some (physiotherapy) work done over the past few days, (but) even with that therapy, it takes a day or two to get back to normal. I should be better tomorrow.”
The Gushue rink is one of two from St. John’s at the Brier.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s representatives, skipped by Andrew Symonds and including Chris Ford, Adam Boland and Keith Jewer, will not advance after losing twice Tuesday, 13-4 to Manitoba and 9-5 to Saskatchewan.
That left the Symonds rink winless in six games heading into their last game against Quebec today.