Gushue enters 2018 Tim Hortons Brier playoffs with momentum

Gushue enters 2018 Tim Hortons Brier playoffs with momentum

Gushue enters 2018 Tim Hortons Brier playoffs with momentum

It took Brad Gushue several years to win his first Canadian men's curling championship.

Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker capped off a dominant week of curling, sailing to their second straight Tim Hortons Brier Canadian curling championship Sunday night with a 6-4 victory over Brendan Bottcher's young Alberta team.

"I saw the list (of back-to-back champions) up on the jumbotron with Ernie Richardson and Kevin Martin those are pretty insane names so to be on that list", Gushue said. He joins Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey, Pat Ryan, Don Duguid, Ron Northcott, Ernie Richardson, Matt Baldwin and Gordon Hudson as the only skips to win consecutive Briers since 1927.

Gushue advanced by toppling Epping 6-2 in Saturday's playoff game between the top seeds.

After a pair of blank ends for openers, he scored his deuce on the third end and didn't open the door the rest of the way. The two teams shook hands after the ninth end.

Trailing 5-3 coming home with hammer against Jacobs, Bottcher made a tricky double takeout to score two. His team was rated 91 per cent to Ontario's 83.

"That second deuce really made us feel comfortable". The foursome went undefeated to win last year's world title in Edmonton.

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Dating back to last season, when he was 11-2 in St. John's, Gushue is 23-3 in the past two Briers. He said the stress to win it at home in St. John's was so intense he's doubts if he'd go through it again unless he was guaranteed he'd win again. Earlier in the tournament, the 37-year-old passed Russ Howard and Martin tied at 113.

Changes in the format to include 16 teams meant eliminating the bronze-medal game Sunday to accommodate the semifinal starting late morning local time. Bottcher beat Ontario's John Epping 6-4 to earn a showdown with Gushue.

The earlier playoff game between Alberta and Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs had more suspense.

"I didn't think he was making that shot", Jacobs said of Bottcher's draw. "We've done everything we wanted to do this week".

"We're together a lot and we found that when the onus is on us to come here and scout rocks and to do evening practices together, we're just a lot better unit". It's just been incredible.

"We just felt like this year we needed to own it, the four of us, and see where that could take us", Bottcher said.

"Brad shot 100 per cent Saturday night so we knew he'd have a ton of confidence from that".

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Not the way Gushue approached it.

The back-to-back Brier titles puts Gushue in elite company.

"I hope they kick the crap out of each other really", Gushue said. People might have stopped and laughed at me.

"Let's be honest. We came here as pretty big underdogs tonight".

They were going to be winners financially. We've beaten so many good teams. The loser of this game is out, while the victor will play the loser of Epping and Gushue in the semi-final on Sunday morning.

"My truck broke down the day before we came here", said the icemaker of the Lacombe Curling Club. And unlike all those other events during the year, all expenses are paid.

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