He had achieved nine of them at the start of the Tim Hortons
Brier. Gushue delivered when it counted Sunday night and can finally
tick the national men's curling championship off his list.
Gushue came through with a draw just inside the top of the
eight-foot ring with his final throw for a dramatic 7-6 win over
Canada's Kevin Koe.
``I knew we had it,'' Gushue said. ``I was somewhat celebrating
from the hogline in because I felt it was going to be a little
closer to the button. But anyway it turned out (well), it doesn't
``Ten from years now you're never going to know what shot you had
to win. It's just the matter that you won.''
The raucous sellout crowd at Mile One Centre fell silent as
Gushue settled into the hack for his last shot.
The throw looked a little light at the start but his teammates
delivered a killer sweep to get it just past the Canada stone for
Gushue threw his broom in the air in celebration as the 6,471
spectators in attendance roared their approval.
``I've been close so many times and we as a team have been
close,'' Gushue said. ``To finally win it _ and win it at home _ you
couldn't ask for a better story. It's awesome.''
This was Gushue's 14th career Brier appearance and third trip to
the final. He's the first Newfoundland skip to hoist the Brier
Tankard since Jack MacDuff in 1976.
``To stand here in our hometown, in our home province, as Brier
champions is just unbelievable,'' said vice-skip Mark Nichols.
Gushue, who won Olympic gold in 2006, lost in last year's final
to Koe and fell to Ontario's Glenn Howard in the 2007 final.
The Newfoundland and Labrador team will represent Canada at the
Ford world men's curling championship next month in Edmonton.
Koe, meanwhile, was looking for his fourth career Brier crown. He
also won in 2010 and 2014.
``I'm proud of the guys, we fought back and made a game of it,''
he said. ``It probably makes it a little more disappointing.''
After an opening blank, the local favourites took advantage after
Canada second Brent Laing flashed a stone. With Newfoundland and
Labrador sitting three, Koe took one opposition stone out with his
last throw but Gushue followed with a draw for a 3-0 lead.
The St. John's side battled some injuries throughout the
competition. Gushue has been somewhat limited all season due to a
hip/groin issue and lead Geoff Walker is nursing a shoulder injury.
Nichols frequently helped Walker and second Brett Gallant with
sweeping duties. Nichols was also in form with his shooting,
delivering a nice double takeout to force Koe to settle for a blank
in the third end.
Koe rubbed a guard with his final throw but still scored one in
the fourth. Gushue had a draw for a pair in the fifth and his rink
took a 5-1 lead into the break.
The electric atmosphere in the building was muted somewhat after
Koe's triple takeout in the sixth end made it a one-point game.
Gushue attempted a double takeout in the seventh but a Canada stone
caught just enough of the eight-foot for a steal.
Koe forced Gushue to hit a takeout for a single in the eighth
end. In the ninth, Gushue picked out a Canada stone to lay three,
forcing Koe to draw for one.
Earlier in the day, Manitoba's Mike McEwen defeated Northern
Ontario's Brad Jacobs 7-5 in an extra end to win bronze.
McEwen, who lost the semifinal to Koe on Saturday, used his final
throw to hit the Northern Ontario stone off the button for the win.
``As much as we were hurting pretty bad and weren't playing for
the colour of medal we wanted to be playing for, we still gave it
our all and it mattered,'' McEwen said.
The afternoon showdown was a rematch of last year's bronze-medal
Jacobs defeated McEwen 7-6 in an extra end at the 2016 Brier in
Ottawa. Koe and his team of Laing, lead Ben Hebert and third Marc
Kennedy defeated Gushue 9-5 in last year's gold-medal game.
This was the first time the Brier has been played in St. John's
since 1972. Overall attendance for the 2017 event was 122,592.
Gushue's team receives a base payout of $71,000 in prize money,
cresting and funding. A minimum of $30,000 will also be awarded for
additional cresting and promotional appearances and Sport Canada
will award funding of $144,000 over two years.
Koe's team earns $45,000 in prize money for winning silver. The
McEwen team gets $35,000 and the Jacobs rink receives $25,000.
Gushue can secure a berth in the Dec. 2-10 Olympic Trials in
Ottawa if he reaches the podium at the world championship. Koe has
already locked up a spot at the Trials.
Ottawa's Rachel Homan won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last
month in St. Catharines, Ont. Her team will represent Canada at the
women's world championship March 18-26 in Beijing.