SASKATOON - Newfoundland's Team Brad Gushue (Picture Curling Canada) has suffered their first loss of the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials.
By: Dylan Chenier
Gushue faced off against Manitoba's Jason Gunnlaugson in Draw 12 on Wednesday night, losing a very tight battle 7-6.
Team Gunnlaugson, with third Adam Casey, second Matt Wozniak, and lead Connor Njegovan started the draw with hammer but were forced to open with a single.
However, Gunnlaugson returned the favour, forcing Gushue to one in the second end. Gushue would continue the scoring into the third, picking up a stolen point.
After scoring another single in the fourth end, Gunnlaugson would open up a bit of a lead by stealing two in the fifth.
Team Gushue returned from the break by scoring a deuce, tying things ups at four apiece. However, Gunnlaugson would retake the lead by scoring two in the seventh end.
After a blank in the eighth, Gushue scored a double making it a tie game heading into the tenth end. However, Gunnlaugson would have hammer heading home.
In the final end of play, Gunnlaugson did everything he needed to do and scored a single point, taking the victory 7-6.
Despite the loss, Gushue's rink with third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, and lead Geoff Walker, out-curled their opponents 89% to 83%. Leading the way for Gushue was third Mark Nichols who curled 94% on 20 shots. Nichols considerably out curled his counterpart Adam Casey, who put up 76% in the game.
At skip, Brad Gushue curled 85% compared to Gunnlaugson's 80%. Gushue is currently ranked second among skips, through six draws he has curled 89% and trails only Brad Jacobs at 92%.
With the loss, Team Gushue now moves to 5-1 but remains atop the standings. Gushue is followed by Brad Jacobs and Kevin Koe, both teams at 4-1.
The standings show three teams beginning to emerge as threats to make this weekend's playoffs. With just one loss each, Gushue, Jacobs, and Koe are currently poised to take the three playoff spots.
However, things are far from over for the remaining teams, all rinks at three losses or less are still in contention. However, they will likely need two get by the top teams if they hope to curl through the weekend.
By defeating Gushue, Gunnlaugson moves to 2-3 and keeps his playoff hopes alive. He will likely need to win out though if he hopes to be alive come Saturday. In his remaining three games, Gunnlaugson is set to face Brendan Bottcher, Kevin Koe, and Matt Dunstone.
Bottcher and Dunstone have already been eliminated from playoff contention and will have nothing to lose when they take on Gunnlaugson. The rink from Morris, Manitoba rink will have to bring their all.
The men's draw at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials continues Thursday afternoon at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
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