Team Canada on fire!
Canadians advance to Sunday’s final in world men’s curling
Brad Gushue is feeling it.
He’s feeling it like he did in 2017 when he guided his Team Canada to the top of the world in men’s curling in Edmonton.
There’s still some work to do, but skip Gushue and his team from the RE/MAX Centre and St. John’s Curling Club are one win away from glory at the 2023 BKT Tires & OK Tire World Men’s Curling Championship in Ottawa.
That special feeling came Saturday after an impressive day at TD Place when Team Canada defeated two of the best teams in the world in back-to-back games. After slapping aside six-time world champion Niklas Edin and his Team Sweden in the qualification game, the Canadians went one better in the evening with a 7-5 win over Team Switzerland, skipped by Yannick Schwaller, with Benoit Schwarz throwing four stones, in the semifinal.
That’s certainly some one-two punch.
“It was good game. I felt we played well,” said Gushue, the five-time Canadian champion who is threatening to win his second world title, six years after his first. “Benoit made some good shots to get them out of some trouble. It seemed like we just couldn’t pull away even though we were playing so well.”
The Canadians have picked a good time to go on a heater. They went 7-3 in their first 10 round-robin games but have been on a tear since then, beating the Swedes twice and now the Swiss.
The Swedes are royalty in men’s curling and Team Switzerland finished on top of the round-robin standings with an 11-1 record.
But they dropped like dominos.
The win over the Swiss was specially sweet for the Canadians. Gushue, supported by third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Ryan Harnden, team coach Caleb Flaxey and national coach Jeff Stoughton, was thumped badly by the Swiss in the opening game of the 13-team event, which was a cold splash of reality.
Revenge is sweet, especially when it really counts.
The victory advances the Canadian team from the RE/MAX Centre and St. John’s Curling Club into today’s 4 p.m. final against Team Scotland skipped by Bruce Mouat. The Scots needed all their shots to post a 9-8 extra-end win over a pesky Team Italy, skipped by Joel Retornaz.
The Swiss and Italians play for the bronze medal at 11 a.m.
“The way we’ve been playing all week I’ll take it,” said Gushue, supported by third Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Ryan Harnden, team coach Caleb Flaxey and national coach Jeff Stoughton. “This hasn’t been our best but that may have been our best game all week as a team. To get to a final we’re pretty fortunate. We just have to go out and play like we did today.”
The Canadians, who carried the play for most of the game, got the start they wanted without the hammer, getting a steal in the opening end.
But it was a ponderously slow march to the sixth end as the teams swapped singles, looking for the inevitable crack in the porcelain.
It didn’t hurt the Swiss that they got a couple of fortuitous rubs that turned possible steals into singles, in the third and sixth ends.
The first deuce — and it was a doozie — came in the seventh when Gushue, in some trouble, made a highlight shot with his first, splitting his own rocks into a double.
“I’ve got to give credit to Jeff on that,” said Gushue. “I was a little fixated on the hit and roll. Jeff came down and mentioned it and as soon as he did I thought it was the right call for the situation. If I miss it at least I open up the four-foot. But we executed it really well.”
“It was a great shot,” he said. “The angles sorta worked in our favour a little bit there and, yeah, to lie three — it forced him to make a double and roll, which was a big deuce for us at that point in the game.”
The Swiss came back with two in the eighth when Schwarz made a nice hit and roll in toward the button to disturb a Canadian shot for two.
But after a blanked ninth end Team Canada left Schwarz only a tiny peek at the button with his last shot but he was heavy.
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This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2023worldmen/nouvelles/?lang=fr