June 30, 2022

Workforce Wild Card One skip Brad Gushue celebrates his win after defeating Workforce Alberta throughout finals motion on the Tim Hortons Brier in Lethbridge, Alta., Sunday, March 13, 2022.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

After a whirlwind winter season that included an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing just some weeks in the past, expectations had been reasonably low for Brad Gushue’s crew on the Tim Hortons Brier.

His short-handed Wild Card One facet would wildly exceed them.

With vice Mark Nichols out for the ultimate weekend on account of COVID-19, Gushue and teammates Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker pulled off a 9-8 victory over Alberta’s Kevin Koe on Sunday to win the nationwide males’s curling championship for the fourth time in six years.

“That is fairly superb,” Gushue mentioned. “I by no means thought this might occur when Mark went down. It’s a little bit of a shock for us.”

The St. John’s-based crew gained three straight must-win playoff video games as a trio. Earlier than topping Koe, Gushue beat Saskatchewan’s Colton Flasch within the 3-4 Web page playoff and defeated Canada’s Brendan Bottcher within the semi-final.

With Koe’s facet well-rested after profitable the 1-2 Web page sport an evening earlier, the near-sellout crowd on the Enmax Centre was handled to a back-and-forth battle with loads of scoring.

Koe’s likelihood for a game-winning three-point finish within the tenth was stifled by a Gushue elevate double-takeout. Gushue then managed the additional finish and took out an Alberta stone on the four-foot ring for the victory.

“What the three of us pulled off right here the previous few days, man oh man, it’s fairly loopy,” mentioned Gushue, who threw 93 per cent. “I by no means thought a crew of three may undergo a gauntlet of Koe, Bottcher and Flasch in a Brier playoff.”

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Each groups struggled considerably on the outset. Gallant flashed a stone within the second finish that led to a Koe deuce. Alberta vice B.J. Neufeld rubbed guards twice within the third finish and Gushue drew for 3 after a Koe runback missed broad.

A Koe faucet for 2 gave Alberta a 4-3 lead into the fifth-end break.

Gushue picked up his second three-ender of the sport within the sixth. Koe cleared one stone on a triple-takeout try and Gushue drew the four-foot to regain the lead.

“The three-pointers was the theme for us immediately,” Gallant mentioned. “We had some huge ends and simply capitalized on them. That was the distinction.”

Koe made successful for 2 to tie the sport within the seventh after Gushue did not bury a hit-and-roll try. Gushue was pressured to a single within the eighth and stole some extent within the ninth when Koe’s draw was gentle.

Within the tenth, Koe may solely hit for 2 and the tie, giving up hammer within the course of.

Koe, who threw 81 per cent, was unable to construct for a steal within the further finish. One Alberta stone was on the 12-foot ring and Koe drew his closing stone to the four-foot earlier than Gushue cleared it and caught for the victory.

“I assumed this one was ours for the taking,” Koe mentioned. “We had been enjoying good.”

Gushue’s fourth profession Brier title as a skip tied him with Koe, Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey and Ernie Richardson for prime spot on the all-time listing. It’s additionally the primary time {that a} wild-card entry has gained the Brier.

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“I’m undoubtedly on a excessive proper now,” Gallant mentioned. “That is thrilling. I can’t consider we bought that carried out. I’ll be on cloud 9 for a couple of extra days.”

Gushue’s crew skilled in British Columbia for a couple of weeks in late January earlier than heading to China and taking third place on the Winter Video games.

After the lengthy flight dwelling, they bought an opportunity to get pleasure from a couple of days of relaxation earlier than making the trek to Lethbridge.

Gushue admitted his gasoline tank was about half full all through the week, however his crew nonetheless gained all eight round-robin video games.

When Nichols went down, he pegged his crew’s possibilities of victory at lower than 10 per cent given the psychological and bodily drain of enjoying as a threesome.

Now the crew is $108,000 richer and can quickly characterize Canada as soon as once more, this time on the April 2-10 world males’s curling championship in Las Vegas.

Koe, from Calgary, and his crew of Neufeld, John Morris and Ben Hebert earned $60,000 for silver. Bottcher’s rink claimed $40,000.

Kerri Einarson gained her third straight Scotties Match of Hearts title final month. She’ll put on the Maple Leaf on the March 19-27 ladies’s world curling championship in Prince George, B.C.

Total attendance over the 10-day Brier was 74,238. Gushue will return as Workforce Canada on the 2023 Brier on the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont.