The Hamilton Spectator

Place in history cemented

Gushue’s 6th Brier title, and 3rd straight, put him among sport’s very best

- DONNA SPENCER

Brad Gushue has further cemented his place in Canadian curling history.

He did so by becoming the first man to skip teams to six national men’s championsh­ips with a 9-5 win over Saskatchew­an’s Mike McEwen in Regina on Sunday night.

Gushue, third Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker won the sixth Briers of their careers and third straight to match records held by Randy Ferbey of Edmonton.

Ferbey also claimed six crowns, including four as a skip, when he three-peated between 2001 and ’03.

“This is why I play. This is why I love the game. I love this moment. To see it all come to fruition after the hard work this week is so cool,” Gushue said. “It isn’t about how many. It’s about this moment here and I’m going to enjoy the next couple hours. We’ve got an early flight so hopefully we make it.”

Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., said he felt “a little pop” in his leg late in the game. “I think it’s just me being 43, to be honest,” the skip said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious.”

E.J. Harnden in his second season with Gushue collected his third national title. His first was in 2013 with Brad Jacobs.

Gushue will represent Canada at the men’s world championsh­ip March 30 to April 7 in Schaffhaus­en, Switzerlan­d, and return to the 2025 Montana’s Brier in Kelowna, B.C., as defending champion.

His team collected $108,000 in prize money Sunday. An Olympic berth in the 2025 trials was also theirs pending a top-six ranking in Switzerlan­d.

Gushue, Nichols and Walker played in their eighth Brier final together and Harnden his fourth.

The four men brought that biggame experience to prevail over Saskatchew­an, which came agonizingl­y close to ending the province’s 44-year Brier drought.

Urged on by the roars of Sunday’s full houses at the Brandt Centre, McEwen ousted top-seeded Brendan Bottcher of Alberta, 7-3, in the afternoon’s semifinal before battling back against Gushue to pull within a point in the sixth end.

Gushue scored two in the second end and three in the fourth, while holding McEwen to singles in the third and the fifth for a 5-2 lead.

But missed peels on guards by the defending champions in the sixth allowed Saskatchew­an to put two stones on the button and another at the top of the four-foot rings to cut off Gushue’s access

McEwen drew to nibble the button to count three. Gushue’s tap was slightly heavy. A measuremen­t determined a steal of two for the hosts to trail 5-4 while a tournament-high 5,734 attending chanted “three, three.”

Saskatchew­an had the opposition under pressure in the seventh when McEwen drew to the top edge of the button under partial cover. But Gushue’s thin double takeout for the deuce and a 7-4 lead drew fist pumps from the skip.

Momentum continued to swing to Gushue in the eighth when Saskatchew­an third Colton Flasch left all three opposing stones in the rings on an attempted triple hit. McEwen drew against four stones for a point.

McEwen’s attempt at a high guard with his first stone of the ninth didn’t reach the hog line and was pulled, which gave Gushue the chance at a game-sealing deuce for the win.

“We beat him (last) Saturday night. Unfortunat­ely, he’s defending champion, he’s hard to put away on Sunday night,” McEwen said. “We have everything to be proud of what we did in six months. This is a great team, and we’re not done yet.”

A Saskatchew­an team reached a Brier final for the first time since 1995. “Despite the result today, this was a hell of an accomplish­ment,” McEwen said.

Brad Gushue, third Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker won the sixth Briers of their careers and third straight to match records held by Randy Ferbey of Edmonton

 ?? DARRYL DYCK THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Canada skip Brad Gushue, back, and lead Geoff Walker embrace as second E.J. Harnden looks on while celebratin­g after defeating Saskatchew­an, 9-5 in nine ends, to win the final at the Brier in Regina on Sunday.
DARRYL DYCK THE CANADIAN PRESS Canada skip Brad Gushue, back, and lead Geoff Walker embrace as second E.J. Harnden looks on while celebratin­g after defeating Saskatchew­an, 9-5 in nine ends, to win the final at the Brier in Regina on Sunday.

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