The two-time defending Brier champions (Photo: Curling Canada) began their 2023-24 campaign with a win in their opening game of the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic.
By: Cameron Sallaj
After a long off-season, Brad Gushue and his NL squad of Mark Nichols, E. J. Harnden and Geoff Walker are back in action this weekend at the AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic. The squad picked up a strong 7-2 win in their opening game against Simon Hebert of Valleyfield, Quebec.
The Gushue rink, now ranked number two in the world, lost the draw to the button for hammer. This proved to be no issue for the team, however, as they opened with a steal of two in the first end. They then added to their total with two more in the second and third ends to open up a six-point lead.
Hebert and his team of Francois Halle, Shane McRae and Simon-Olivier Hebert continued to fight despite the early setback, taking one in the fourth and swiping a steal in the fifth to bring the game within four.
The team from The Rock picked up one more point in the sixth, leading to concession by the Quebec rink with a final score of 7-2.
With the win, Team Gushue move into second place in the pool as one of two undefeated teams. Their next game tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern Time sees them face Owen Purcell (1-1; Halifax, NS).
On Friday, the team will play two games at 11:00 AM and 8:00 PM ET against Hayato Sato (0-2; Sapporo, JPN) and John Epping (1-1; Toronto, ON) respectively before closing out the preliminary round against James Craik (2-0; Forfar, SCO) at 5:00 PM on Saturday.
The top eight men's teams from the twenty-four-team qualifying round will advance to the playoffs. Similarly, eight women's teams will make up the knockout round from the eighteen-team field.
Although a September start is quite early in the curling season, many of the top teams already have a couple events under their belts. Notably, Bruce Mouat's Scottish side has picked up wins at both the Euro Super Series and the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard to pass Gushue as the number one ranked team in the world. A good placement this week by Gushue would put them back in first place, however.
The Shorty Jenkins Classic is making its first return since 2019 when the event was put on hiatus. That year, Gushue was eliminated in the quarterfinals by John Epping, who went on to win the final by defeating Brad Jacobs 5-3. Jennifer Jones took the women's title with a 6-4 victory over Tracy Fleury.
The AMJ Campbell Shorty Jenkins Classic began Wednesday and is running through Sunday at the Cornwall Curling Centre in Cornwall, Ontario. Live streaming links can be found at https://www.shortyjenkins.com/livestream.
SCORES and STANDINGS at www.CurlingZone.com.