Home team scores big win at Tim Hortons Brier

ST. JOHN’S – Hometown hero Brad Gushue jumped on a golden opportunity in the fifth end and then made the crucial shots in the final few ends to beat Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario 7-5 Tuesday to keep alive his playoff hopes at the Tim Hortons Brier. The result improved Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s) to 4-2 and dropped Northern Ontario (Sault Ste. Marie) to 5-2. It was one of three big games in Tuesday night’s 10th draw. Previously unbeaten Mike McEwen of Manitoba (5-1; Winnipeg) fell behind early and couldn’t come back, falling 7-5 to John Morris of British Columbia (4-3; Vernon-Kelowna). Kevin Koe and Team Canada (4-2; Calgary) suffered their second loss, falling 6-4 to Brendan Bottcher of Alberta (3-4; Edmonton).

B.C. skip John Morris calls instructions to sweepers, with Manitoba’s Mike McEwen behind him. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“Lose that we’re fighting for our lives the rest of the week,” Gushue said of the emotionally charged game. “A lot of intensity and emotion. I’m very proud of the way my team played. “I kind of lit a fire under the guys and had to lead by example so I went out with a lot more intensity.” Gushue and Jacobs traded deuces in the first two ends and blanked two more until a pivotal slip by Northern Ontario lead Ryan Harnden created a crack for Newfoundland. Harnden slipped while sweeping Jacobs’ final stone and burned the rock. What would have been a routine hit and stick and likely another blank end, turned into two for Gushue who had only to make a wide open draw. Gushue, backed up by third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker and coach Jules Owchar, then stole a single in six when Jacobs’ try for an angled raise came up an inch short. “It’s not like that cost us the game,” said Harnden. “We had half a game left. Soon as you fall, you get up, forget it and move on.” A flash by Nichols allowed Jacobs to set up a potential three-ender in seven but Gushue made a double with his last rock to keep Northern Ontario to a deuce. A delicate last-rock tapback by Gushue gave him two in eight to offset that. McEwen, meanwhile, fell behind early against B.C., as he did earlier in the day against Mike Kennedy of New Brunswick. After giving up two in the first and two more in the third, the Manitoba rink couldn’t make it all the back this time. “We got the deuce kind of out of nowhere in the first end, which was nice,” said B.C. vice-skip Jim Cotter. “It was something we needed and we just kind of went from there.” Manitoba still remains atop the standings. “We’re too good a team to continue at this pace,” McEwen said of his team’s struggles in the early goings Tuesday. “We’re going to find it eventually. We have a big game tomorrow so we’ll need it then.” Koe had his hands full with Bottcher, who stole one in the fourth after Canada had blanked the first three ends. Koe got that back in the fifth and the teams traded deuces in the sixth and seventh. In the other game, almost forgotten on an outside sheet, Adam Casey of Saskatchewan (4-3; Regina) scored three in the first end and five in the sixth to roll past Glenn Howard of Ontario (1-5; Etobicoke) 9-5. Quebec’s Jean-Michel Ménard (4-2; Lévis), Jamie Murphy of Nova Scotia (2-4;Halifax), New Brunswick (1-5; Fredericton) and Jamie Koe of Northwest Territories (1-5; Yellowknife) had the byes. Draws on Wednesday are scheduled for 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times NST). For ticket and other event information, https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/ For the complete schedule, go to https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/draw/ This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at https://www.curling.ca/2017brier/?lang=fr TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Tim Hortons Brier.