The post-game question posed to Tommy Brewster on Saturday night was obvious. Can Canada’s Jeff Stoughton beat Scotland three times in a row today?
Sort of like Scotland’s David Murdoch tripled Canada’s Kevin Martin two winters back?
“Well,” said the 36-year-old Curl Aberdeen icemaker and manager, “it’s just another game of curling, let’s be honest.”
Is it really?
“They’re a fantastic side, make no bones about it,” added Brewster. “But to me we’ve just beaten the best side outside of Canada. So that sets us up well for the final. Hey, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’ve won a medal now and I’d be really disappointed if I’d been trying to get up for a bronze game. Granted, we’ve had our share of rubs in some games but we’ve created our own luck a wee bit, too.”
Brewster’s 7-6 semi-final victory over hard-charging Thomas Ulsrud and his Norwegians catapulted the Scottish side that includes Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow, all relative youngsters in their early twenties, to the gold-medal tussle Sunday night (5:00 p.m. CST, live on TSN) at the Brandt Centre against the favoured Canucks.
Certain aspects of the semi, an exciting match played before 5,491 live viewers, will be the subject of disagreement in the game’s clubrooms for some time.
Norway scored a vital deuce in the sixth end of the match controlled to that point by Scotland and appeared to take command of the issue. But Brewster succeeded in blanking two exchanges, then took advantage of a questionable call and subsequent miss by Ulsrud on his last rock of the ninth that backfired and was the ultimate game-changer.
Ulsrud’s last-shot option without the hammer: Hit an open Scottish rock and attempt to roll behind a centre guard, or ignore the counter and attempt a cold bury to the four-foot behind the guard.
The former option appeared to be the higher percentage call. With the hit and roll, Brewster would have faced the same sort of last shot to take one or be left another opportunity to blank. With the draw, Ulsrud had to be perfect to escape giving up a deuce. He wasn’t perfect and Brewster took the commanding pair with a draw.
Even then, Ulsrud had a shot at winning in the 10th end after making a fine bury with his first rock. Brewster froze to his own stone alongside leaving the Norwegian an open hit that necessitate a perfect angle, just off-nose to avoid a jam. But Ulsrud didn’t get the slight angle, settled for one on a measure and ran out of options in the extra end, missing a last-rock bury and failing to force Brewster to throw the final shot.
“I thought I had it, but I lacked speed, I needed more speed,” said Ulsrud of his 10th-end runner. “I thought it would pop out. The Scots made some good peels in the extra. I was heavy on a couple of key draws. In the ninth, trying to force him, and the last one.
“We were looking good halfway there. But . . .
“Our strategy in the ninth was to make the perfect come-around and make it really difficult for him. Still, one down coming home for hammer wasn’t bad. But it didn’t work out. We planned that the whole end with that guard so that’s the way we played it.”
Brewster said he wasn’t surprised by the ninth-end call.
“I knew he’d do that,” he said. “As soon as I threw the shot I knew he’d draw. He only needed to get half-round. That’s the way he plays. I know his style and some of the shots he goes for.”
Was it high-percentage?
“Probably not. But if he’d made the wee chip and rolled in behind we’d have had to take one. And he was only about five millimetres away from getting two in the 10th. If they sweep that the whole way we’re done. We got a lucky rub there.”
Ulsrud said he’d pick Canada to win in the final. “Big favourites going in,” he suggested.
Brewster was less certain.
“Sure losing will mean more to them than it does to us,” he said. “That might tie them up a little, I suppose, but as long as we can be up or keep the game close, the more the fear factor may come into play. We can take a lot from both those previous games.”
What about changes in the ice?
“It wasn’t much different that what we played on (Friday night).”
The final will be Stoughton’s third against Scotland. He beat Warwick Smith in 1996 at Hamilton and lost to Hammy McMillan in 1999 at Saint John.
“I don’t know,” said Brewster. “But every time I’ve skipped for my country (two Euro mixed championships and one world junior) I’ve come back gold, so . . .”
Meanwhile, Norway will play for a bronze medal at 12 Noon local time Sunday against Sweden’s Niklas Edin.