Bottcher betters Gushue in Canadian Open semifinal
Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rink cleared a big hurdle Saturday afternoon, but couldn’t quite get over another one that same night.
Brendan Bottcher of Edmonton made a last-rock draw through a port to just barely score two points in the eighth and final end to edge Gushue 6-5 in the semifinal of the Meridian Canadian Open Saturday night in North Battleford, Sask. The game came just hours after both had claimed quarter-final victories, with Gushue’s coming against veteran Glenn Howard of Ontario.
Before the quarter-final round, Gushue had been 0-4 against the Howard rink this curling season, including once when Glenn Howard was unavailable and his son, Scott, the team’s third, took over for a bonspiel in Halifax.
Howard had also defeated Gushue in the opening draw of the Open, the fifth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of 201819. But Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker proceeded to rattle off three straight wins to advance to the playoffs of the triple knockout event, then finally vanquished Howard by a 6-2 score.
The semifinal was a rematch of last year’s Brier final, where Gushue bested Bottcher for a second straight Canadian men’s crown. And it was a close one, with both teams, and both skips, curling at 86 per cent.
Gushue had the only steal — a single point in the fifth end — but it wasn’t enough to overcome a Bottcher team that opened with last-rock advantage and scored a pair of two-enders.
Before that, Gushue hadn’t given up two points in a single end since the opening loss to Howard.
In fact, the six points allowed by the Brier champs were the most they had surrendered in the entire event.
Before that, they had only allowed a total of 15 points in five games, or an average of a miniscule three points per game.
Bottcher, finished off a perfect week North Battleford, defeating Toronto’s John Epping 6-3 in Sunday’s final.
The Bottcher rink went 6-0 in North Battleford.