Team Canada on top of Pool A at Tim Hortons Brier

REGINA – With the disappointment of December still lingering for both Brad Gushue and Mike McEwen, they wrote a new chapter of their rivalry on the ice of the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, Monday night. But unlike the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings semifinal in Ottawa, it was Gushue coming out on top, with Team Canada (St. John’s) defeating Team Wild Card (Winnipeg) 7-5. The victory leaves Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallow and coach Jules Owchar the only undefeated team in Pool A at 4-0. McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and coach Chris Neufeld are 3-1. “It feels great. Obviously it was a big win. You know Mike’s going to be around at the end of the week, so any time you can get two games up – we would have to lose two for him to jump ahead of us now – yeah, it’s a big win,” said Gushue. In the trials semi, McEwen curled the lights out at the Canadian Tire Centre to advance to the final, where his team lost on a last-rock shot that sent the Kevin Koe’s Calgary crew to the 2018 Olympics. The tables were turned Monday night with Gushue outcurling McEwen 89 to 78 per cent. “Mike’s played us really well over the years, and you can see he’s got a better record against us than we do against him, and by a fair margin, so he gets up for us and we know that, so we have to be sharp,” said Gushue. “The good thing is it’s hard to replicate as good as he was the last week of the trials. He didn’t miss. He missed one half shot in the sixth end of the final, and that was it, otherwise he would have been in Korea. “He was a little less than that tonight. He had a couple of misses, but a lot of that was because we put a lot of pressure on him and gave him tough shots.” Earlier in the day, McEwen describe Monday night’s game as a “big boy battle.”

Nova Scotia skip Jamie Murphy watches his team’s shot, as Northwest Territories skip Jamie Koe looks on. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“They were a good version of themselves, and we weren’t as good as we could be and that’s not going to be good enough to beat Brad,” said McEwen. “We made a couple of calls that probably could have forced the issue a bit more. It’s tough. You’re playing a good team that’s starting with hammer, there’s not much room for error.” Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton) remained in the hunt for top spot in the pool by taking out Greg Smith (1-3) of Newfoundland/Labrador (St. John’s) 9-2 to improve to 3-1 along with Team Wild Card. Alberta has won three in a row following an opening-draw loss to Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy on Saturday. “It’s a long week. We get just keep battling, getting better and better every game. I think we’re getting more comfortable. We had a great game tonight and we’ll keep plugging away,” said Alberta lead Karrick Martin. “The play in general is going to get better throughout the week and we’ve got to keep raising our game just like everybody else. We’re definitely doing it so far, and we’ll be looking to keep it going.” Murphy, meanwhile, dropped to 2-2 and a tie for the fourth and final Championship Pool playoff spot with Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories after the Yellowknife team defeated the Halifax squad 7-3. In a battle of 0-3 teams, rookie Yukon (Whitehorse) skip Thomas Scoffin, 23, won his first Tim Horton Brier game by defeating Sean Geall of British Columbia (0-4; Kelowna) 8-2. The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with draws Tuesday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.

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