SASKATOON - Brad Gushue is through to the finals at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials.
By: Dylan Chenier
After a nine-draw round-robin, featuring nine of the country's top rinks, three men's teams are left with a chance to represent Canada at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
With their almost identical records, Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs finished atop the round-robin standings at 7-1 each. Due to the fact that Gushue beat Jacobs 7-6 in Draw 8, his rink will advance straight to Sunday night's championship final. Meaning Brad Gushue is just one win away from making it to his second Olympic games.
"Job one done, getting to the playoffs. Job two, getting to the final and [we] just got to finish it off now," Gushue said of the accomplishment and what's ahead for the team.
Gushue wrapped up the round-robin portion of the tournament by beating Manitoba's Mike McEwen on Friday night at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
"I thought it was a great game, I thought we controlled it, we played well, we played composed. The ice was [as] challenging as it's been all week, I thought we handled it very well," said Gushue on the win against McEwen.
Team Gushue will now have to wait and see who their opponent is in Sunday's final, which will be decided in the men's semi-finals which are set for Saturday afternoon.
"Whoever we play on Sunday, whether it's Jacobs or Koe, we're going to have a tough game... It's going to come down to whoever's hot and whoever gets a break or two.
"These three teams are very close and, as unfortunate as this sounds, sometimes it does take a break to win. If one team gets super hot they're going to be representing Canada and hopefully we're that super hot team."
Given that they will have over a day to wait before playing in Sunday's final, Gushue says it's "ok" for the team to start thinking about what it would be like to win another Trials.
"Really, it's ok if you think about it. It's just, you can't dwell on it, you can't go down that rabbit hole. Think about it, park it, move on. It's going to pop up throughout the day tomorrow but we'll talk about it as a team."
In the men's semi-finals, defending Trials champion Kevin Koe is set to take on 2014 Olympic gold-medalist Brad Jacobs. The Alberta-based skip says he is exactly where he wants to be.
"Coming in, if we had said we're playing on the weekend, two games to win, to games to go [to the Olympics], I think we would have taken it," Koe said.
In the round-robin matchup between Jacobs and Koe, it was the team from Northern Ontario emerging on top, winning 8-2. However, now that the playoffs have begun, it's anybody's game.
"We didn't play particularly great against them, [but] you know, I don't mind that. I think we'll play better against them next time," said Koe.
For the first time since 2009, Canada will have a repeat Olympic skip, as all three men have previously competed in the Winter Games. Now would make history as the first Canadian male to ever skip back-to-back Olympic squads.
The men's playoffs at the 2021 Tim Hortons Curling Trials begin Saturday with a semi-final at 2:00 PM CT, the championship final is set for Sunday at 7:00 PM CT.
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