Gushue bounces back with vital win over Koe

After a loss to Jamie Koe Monday morning, Team Canada's Brad Gushue (Photo: Curling Canada) needed a win Monday night to keep his team in above five hundred in Regina.

By: Cameron Sallaj

In Monday night's Draw 9, two of the pre-tournament favorites battled with playoff hopes on the line. Ranked second and third on the CTRS standings respectively, Canada's Brad Gushue was trying to bounce back after a tough loss in the morning while Alberta's Kevin Koe's tried to avoid elimination.

The two-time defending champs got off to a hot start in the contest, counting two in the opening end. They then forced Alberta to just one in the second to retain hammer going to three.

Both teams counted singles in the next two ends, eventually leading to Gushue blanking the fifth end. After five, Team Canada led 3-2.

The Gushue rink with third Mark Nichols, second E. J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker extended their lead by two in the sixth end. After an uncharacteristic miss by Tyler Tardi, Nichols was able to split the rings and set up the deuce for the team from The Rock.

Down by three, the Koe rink, consisting of Koe, Tardi, second Jacques Gauthier and lead Karrick Martin could only manage one in the seventh. Then in eight, a score of three by the Gushue rink ended the game early, 8-3 the final score.

Team Gushue have had a slower 2023-24 season than expected, currently ranked seventh in the world with a 37-15 win/loss record headed into the Brier. Although they won both the Pan Contientnal Championship and the Karuizawa International, they have yet to qualify for a Grand Slam final and missed the playoffs at the KIOTI National in November.

Now at 3-2, the team looks to build momentum toward playoff weekend. They will close out the round robin against Nunavut, Prince Edward Island and Alberta.

Team Koe have also won two titles during the season, the Astec Safety Challenge in January and the Pumps and Pressure Red Deer Curling Classic in November. They have also been unsuccessful in Grand Slam play thus far, failing to qualify at all four Slams so far this season.

With the loss dropping them to 1-4, the Koe rink will need to win out if they want to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage of the 2024 Montana's Brier. In their final three games, they will face Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Nunavut.

In other Draw 9 scores, the Northwest Territories' Jamie Koe (4-1; Yellowknife) climbed to the top of Pool B with a 9-2 routing of Nunavut's Shane Latimer (0-4; Iqaluit). The Territories rink knocked off Brad Gushue in Draw 7 and are setting up for a run at the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Prince Edward Island's Tyler Smith (3-1; Crapaud) is also in contention to play this weekend. The PEI squad upset Alberta's Aaron Sluchinski (2-2; Airdrie) 8-5 to sit tied in second place in the pool.

In the final game of the draw, Nova Scotia's Matthew Manuel (2-3; Halifax) handed Saskatchewan's Mike McEwen (3-1; Saskatoon) his first loss, stealing two in the tenth end for a 7-4 victory. The win keeps Manuel in contention while Saskatchewan is tied with PEI in second.

Action from the 2024 Montana's Brier continues Tuesday at 9:00 AM Central Time. The featured match in Draw 10 sees a battle of Ontario between Scott Howard (Ontario) and Trevor Bonot (Northern Ontario).

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