Canada's Gushue goes for gold again in men's curling championship - InfoNews

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Canada's Gushue goes for gold again in men's curling championship

Canada skip Brad Gushue directs sweepers during a qualification game against the United States during the World Men's Curling Championship, Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
April 07, 2018 - 10:43 PM

LAS VEGAS - Brad Gushue is a win away from repeating as men's world curling champion.

His team from St. John's, N.L., clashes with Sweden's Niklas Edin in Sunday's final. That's a rematch of last year's final in Edmonton, where Gushue won 4-2.

Canada battled to a 9-5 semifinal win over Scotland's Bruce Mouat on Saturday.

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Mark Nichols are attempting to become the fifth team in history to claim back-to-back titles.

The four previous teams have also been Canadian: Randy Ferbey (2002-03), Don Duguid (1970-71), Ron Northcott (1968-69) and Ernie Richardson (1959-60, 1962-63).

But Edin again stands in Gushue's way. Canada lost 6-5 in the preliminary round to the Swedes, who won Olympic silver medals in February.

The Swedes went 11-1 in the preliminary round and will have last-rock advantage to start the game Sunday as the higher seed.

"Nik's team is one of the best in the world. Nik, I'd put him in the top two or three players in the world," Gushue said.

"You're not going to get handed anything from that team. They have the hammer which is a big advantage. For us, the focus of the first five ends is just going to be to wrestle that back. It's going to be tough."

Mouat faces South Korea's ChangMin Kim — a 9-8 loser to Edin in the other semifinal — for bronze.

Gushue's path to the final in Las Vegas was more arduous than last year when Canada went undefeated to win in Edmonton.

The skip struggled with his ice reads and shots early in the tournament. Each member of the team took a turn having an off-game and curling under 80 per cent accuracy.

But Gushue says national team coach Rick Laing — a two-time world champ — offered a golf analogy that resonated with him.

"You're not going to go out like at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix and shoot 20-under," Gushue explained.

"It's going to be a U.S. Open where even par or even 1-under is going to win. You've got to grind it out.

"I thought that was a great comparison to how we feel this week. We've just got to stick around even-par and at the end of the week we should be standing up, which we are.

"It's just one more game and hopefully we can shoot 6-under tomorrow in golf terms."

The Scots, with an average age of 23.5, weren't intimidated in their world championship debut.

Mouat went 11-1 to earn a bye to the semifinal, while Gushue (9-3) had to beat Greg Persinger of the U.S. 6-4 in Saturday's earlier quarterfinal.

Wind and cloud cover over Las Vegas after several arid, sunny days contributed to a sudden increase in the humidity Saturday in the Orleans Arena.

Draw weight and finesse hit and rolls were difficult on frosty ice. Ice crews scraped and pebbled the game sheet at the fifth-end break.

Trailing 5-4 after six ends, Canada wrested momentum away from the Scots scoring three in the seventh and stealing a point in the eighth. The Scots shook hands after nine.

Mouat needed a hit and roll towards the button for one in the eighth, but rolled the wrong way and gave up a steal.

High drama happened in the seventh, when Gushue's angle raised locked two Canadian counters together on the edge of the button. Mouat's draw was a hair short of shot stone.

Gushue's raise takeout to score three generated a yell and a triple fist pump from the skip and brought the pro-Canada crowd to its feet.

"I was pretty red out there tonight and when I get there — I don't go there often — those come out," the skip said of his outburst of emotion. "It's tiring when I do that. I couldn't do that all week."

"That's something I've gotten better at as I've gotten older. I would do that when I was younger and I'd still be fired up for another half hour.

"I've learned to really control myself and I had to get right back down. I did some deep breathing. We do some meditation.

"I did a little bit there in between ends just to try and calm down because I was pretty pumped."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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